Sean Stevens

Text and photos by Sean Stevens

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Born and raised in Calgary Alberta Canada, and the eldest of three children (the only boy), I have always been around plants. My mother had a massive collection of tropical plants in the house and she was an avid gardener. I can always remember Mom asking me to help her out when she would be weeding, sowing, planting or propagating. She told me I loved to get my hands in the muck. My father was a farmer when I was young so I was lucky to also have his encouragement when I showed an interest in plants.

As I got older I found my love of plants tended toward the unusual and rare. My grandparents, who were also into rare and unusual plants, helped me with my collections of orchids. At the age of 17 I discovered the wonderful world of Bonsai and, after borrowing every book from the library I could find, my father suggested I take a course in Bonsai design. I was lucky to find a local Bonsai club and the chairperson at the time was offering small classes. I jumped at the chance.

The pride and joy of my Bonsai collection is the Ficus benjamina which is featured in the Bonsai Gallery of my website. This plant is one of the stock plants that my Grandmother gave to me before she passed on. I have been training it from the three twigs that it was originally to the shape it displays today. Unfortunately it is the only plant that Grandma gave me all those years ago that I still have in my collection but I cherish it even more because it was a gift from her.

 Vancouver West End

I had decided to move west at the age of 30. Being an avid gardener, I was not able to grow much in Calgary's Zone 3 climate with major temperature fluctuations in the winter, so I decided to move to Vancouver, Zone 8B, to be by the ocean and grow all the tropical plants I had always desired. Yes, we can grow bananas and palm trees here. Although the weather on the coast can be quite unpredictable I have found with a few simple precautions any plant can survive a mild winter here. I have been experimenting with creating microclimates for several of my tropical plants in order to keep them outside all winter long. I have found that most of my tender tropicals will survive even frost and slight soil freeze provided they do not thaw too fast. The best part of living in Vancouver now is having the ability to grow a much larger spectrum of plants than those I was limited to living in the Prairie Provinces. The other benefit is I have some hardier plants that bloom habits all winter long! It's nice to be able to go outside and smell the spicy fragrance from the carnations on a frosty morning.

My interest in ponding has been evident since I was a young buck when I grew many tropical marginals as house plants. I have been truly blessed to have both meet and trade with wonderful people I have met over the internet. I began trading starts of a couple of waterlilies that I purchased online a few years ago and through a few online resources those few plants that I started with have turned into an outstanding collection. I guess the best part for me about waterlilies and other aquatic plants is that I can propagate them so easily, thus increasing my stock for trading with others and receiving plants that are not in my collection. I must say that ponders are the most generous folk I have ever met. Of all the people I have traded aquatic plants with I have never found a bad apple. The best part of this wonderful hobby is that these individuals have become my friends and for that I am thankful.



 'Director Moore'


 'Blue Marble'

A real benefit of having a good collection of waterlilies is being able to cross the best traits from any two lilies to come up with a better plant. I have been working with hybridizing tropical waterlilies to develop my own stock plants. It is with these stock plants and the help of other hybridizers that I hope to add to the gene pool and develop something truly amazing. I have found that a few rather unorthodox methods that I have attempted to both hybridize and propagate waterlilies have worked extremely well for me. It is these methods that I choose to share with the community of waterlily fanciers so that we can all attempt to create something spectacular and then be able to share it with aquatic gardeners everywhere.

Luminary Prospects - Water Gardening Under Artificial Light
by Sean Stevens
Growing Waterlilies In Dixie Cups by Sean Stevens
Tropical Waterlily Tuber Propagation by Sean Stevens
Viviparous Tropical Waterlily Propagation - by Sean Stevens
Sean's Ponds & Patio Garden

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