Text & photos provided by Noelene
Click images to enlarge
My father, Charlie Winch, has been interested in waterlilies
for more than seventy three years. In 1928, when he was ten years
old, he acquired his first waterlily, 'Albida' (a hardy). Charlie
slowly added to his collection, whilst working on his parents'
small poultry farm in Sydney, Australia. He spent many hours
building cement and stone ponds in the family backyard. By 1939
he had become interested in tropicals as well and grew 'Blue
Capensis', stellata and 'Mrs. Ward' (also known as 'Siebert').
During World War II, when he served in the Australian Army,
his parents (also keen gardeners) looked after his goldfish and
waterlilies. On his discharge from the army, he decided to become
a full-time aquatic nurseryman, breeding goldfish and growing
various cold water aquatic plants, especially waterlilies.
By 1953 he had become very interested in tropicals and, following
his wife Beryl's suggestion, became one of the first Australians
to import day-flowering varieties from the United States. The
twelve he purchased from Trickers were 'General Pershing', 'Pink
Pearl', 'Independence', 'Persian Lilac', 'Peach Blow', 'Golden
West', 'Talisman', 'St. Louis', 'Mrs. George Pring', 'Isabelle
Pring', 'August Koch', and 'Director George T Moore'.
'Director George T Moore'
Charles Winch used these and other imported tropical
lilies in his early hybridizing. (Knotts
Charlie began hybridizing shortly afterwards crossing 'Blue Capensis'
with the imported ones. In 1954 'Noelene', a lavender pink, was
his first recognized breakthrough using 'Golden West' and 'Blue
Capensis' as parents. After a few years, Charlie came to realise
that using a species like 'Blue Capensis'meant that the blue
colour dominated and therefore was not a good seed parent. He
decided to only cross the imported tropicals and their progeny.
Unfortunately, there wasn't much time for his hobby whilst trying
to earn a living raising and selling goldfish and water plants
as well as his two daughters, Noelene and Margaret.
However, Dad's interest in improving species has also been evident
in goldfish breeding, particularly the Comet variety, as he was
keen to increase his turnover by selling goldfish at a younger
age and size. When Charlie first bred fish in the early 1930s
it took from one to three years for goldfish to change colour
from brown to gold. By the 1950s all his young fish turned red
from six weeks to twelve months due to twenty years of selective
breeding from fish that turned gold more quickly. As years went
by, the fish produced were closer to red than gold. Charlie gained
a reputation in Australia for breeding the deepest coloured Comets.
In the 1960s Evan Williams, from northern New South Wales, became
interested in waterlilies. Edie Metelik (a long time friend)
of Austral Watergardens in outer Sydney, referred Evan to my
father for specialist information. Charlie, living in Sydney,
then became involved with the quarantine of Evan's imported new
tropicals from the United.States. Evan then began exporting some
of Charlie's hybrids to America. During the 1970s Dad acquired
white 'Ted Uber' which he used as a seed parent to produce new
hybrids such as 'White Delight', 'White Fleck', 'Charles Winch',
and 'Mark Pullen'. Other new imports he obtained and used in
hybridizing included 'Yellow Dazzler', 'Afterglow', and 'Blue
1. Cover parent buds with
floating mesh or mosquito
net before they are due to
open to keep out the bees
In 1978 Charlie retired from full-time work and decided to
devote the rest of his years to his hobby of hybridizing day-flowering
tropical waterlilies. By this time he was building his ponds
from plastic sheeting which was later replaced by butyl rubber.
This meant that quicker results could be achieved as the ponds
didn't need to be cured like those made from cement. Due to suburban
sprawl and Dad's need for a large backyard, the family helped
him move a few times over the years, the last being in 1989 to
a 2.25 acre property on the outskirts of Sydney. This was a major
undertaking and took three months! Photographic
History of the Winch Nurseries
Charlie's hybridization goals have been to improve the variety
of colours in both flowers and leaves and to increase the number
of petals per flower. When he began hybridizing in the 1950s,
most tropicals generally had 18 to 21 petals, there were no deep
red/pinks, and 'Director George Moore' was the only deep purple
available. Through Evan Williams, Charlie made contact with Jack
Wood of California and then acquired white 'Jan Wood', which
had two-toned brightly coloured leaves and a larger number of
petals than most varieties of this period. This proved to be
an excellent seed parent and he used it and its progeny with
Further crossings over the seasons, using his own hybrids,
have resulted in Charlie producing many varieties with richer
coloured two-toned leaves (red-brown/green in blotches). In some
of his hybrids, the colours underneath the leaves no longer indicate
the flower colour. Dad has also developed flowers with stronger
colours especially in red/pinks and purples, and flowers with
two colour combinations such as pink/white, blue/white, purple/white,
pink/yellow, etc.. His hybrids encompass a large variety of flower
shapes such as cuplike, stellate, flat, round, wide and narrow
petals. One of his major achievements has been to increase the
number of petals per flower, with some recent hybrids having
up to fifty petals depending on the size of the blooms. This
is considerably more than the average twenty petals in the 1950s.
My father has achieved over six hundred different hybrids
and named two hundred of them. Selecting names has been quite
a challenge. Family members such as such as his parents, wife,
daughters, grandchildren and other relatives were obvious choices.
Close friends who are also waterlily enthusiasts have been recognised.
Australian scenery and terms (such as 'Billabong' and 'True Blue'),
music, food, flowers, history and colours have all provided inspiration.
2. Place a stocking net bag
over the impregnated
flower and attach
a polystyrene float to it
3.Choose seed planting
containers that are about
3 inches (7.5 cm) deep
4. Tropical waterlily seedlings
from one successful
crossing are almost
ready for replanting
Charlie is currently trying to increase the stocks of his best
hybrids before releasing them. It was difficult for me to choose
which photographs of his hybrids to include in this article but
I decided to choose some of his better known varieties.
'Sally Smith Thomas'
· 'Noelene' (1954) has 20 lavender pink petals, and
bright green and maroon mottled leaves with yellow-green and
maroon mottles underneath, similar to its parent 'Golden West'.
· 'June Alison' (1980) has up to 40 pink and white petals,
pink stamens, and pink flecked green leaves and sepals.
· 'Senorita' (1992) has up to 43 raspberry red pointed
petals and green leaves that are pink underneath.
· 'Marguerite' (1982) has up to 37 afterglow pink petals,
lightly pink flecked sepals and leaves similar to its parent
· 'Sally Smith Thomas' (1984) has up to 26 salmon pink
afterglow wide petals and vivid green leaves.
· 'Verena' (1997) has up to 47 petals afterglow yellow
pointed petals, pink tipped stamens, and yellow-green sepals
and leaves flecked with maroon.
· 'White Delight' (1974) has up to twenty six pointed
creamy white petals, yellow stamens and light blue purple flecked
sepals and leaves.
· 'Charles Winch' (1974) has up to thirty six beautifully
rolled inner petals, yellow stamens and green foliage.
· 'Ambrosia' (1995) is cup-shaped, with up to thirty three
petals ranging from greenish-yellow in the centre to blue/purple
on the outer petals. The stamens are cream and the leaves are
mottled dark red/green.
· 'Mark Pullen' (1987) has up to thirty six wide violet
blue petals, green leaves with purplish red and small red freckles
· 'Billabong' (1987) has up to forty round tipped blue
petals, heavy stamens and red/brown and green blotched leaves.
· 'True Blue' (1992) has up to thirty five purplish blue
pointed petals, green sepals and leaves.
Charlie is a founding Life Member of the International Waterlily
and Water Gardening Society. He has been visited in Sydney by
several American waterlily enthusiasts including Walter Pagels
(a regular visitor), Perry and Maggie Belle Slocum, Paul Stetson
of Paradise Watergardens, Anne Emmet, Verena Liechti of Jim's
Watergardens and Ray and Barbara Davies from England. In 1985
Charlie toured the United.States visiting Walter Pagels, Jack
Wood, Bill Uber of Van Ness Watergardens, Charles and Sally Thomas
of Lilypons, and Rolf and Anita Nelson. While in Washington,
my father was delighted to see his 'White Delight' flowering
in the National Aboretum. Two years later he was invited to present
a paper on his hybridizing at the IWGS Symposium in Denver where
he enjoyed the hospitality of Mary and John Mirgon.
Charlie thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many fellow waterlily
enthusiasts during his two trips to the United States but no
longer feels confident to travel overseas. He plans to keep hybridizing
day-flowering tropical waterlilies as long as his health permits
as this gives him much pleasure. In fact, over the spring, summer
and autumn months he is very passionate about this hobby of a
lifetime! My sister and I and our families are very proud of
Charles Winch passed away 19 November 2006.