Caracas Victoria Society

Images by Juli Carbonell & Fernando Santos
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Fernando, Juli and Dorothy

Kit and Ben: The world is so small. And it is made far smaller by the Internet. Over the years, Guillermo Angulo in Colombia and Fernando Santos in Venezuela have become treasured friends, by way of the Internet and also in person. All have a passion for water gardening, Victoria in particular. It may seem odd, since Victoria is native to South America, that it is not successfully cultivated in many South American countries but it is true! Guillermo was the first in Colombia to cultivate Victoria privately and provided seeds and support for its cultivation at the Bogota Botanical Garden. Fernando has tried many times to cultivate Victoria in Caracas, Venezuela, without success.

Fernando introduced us via the Web to Dorothy Whittembury, also of Caracas, who provided us with the delightful and insightful account of her trip to Iquitos, Peru, and her search for V. amazonica there. Guillermo introduced us and the Santos via the Web to Juli Carbonell (whom he has not met in person) who just happens to live in Caracas, has known Dorothy for many years, knows Fernando's and Lucia's families, but not Fernando and Lucia. Juli and her husband Luis came to visit with us in October of 2003 and we will be fast friends forever. They went home with Victoria seeds, Victoria "cocktail" and all the information we could load them with.

Very soon after Juli and Luis returned to Venezuela, they assembled this remarkable "circle of friends" along with several other important additions. Since we and Guillermo could only be present in spirit, we begged for reports and pictures, shared below.

November 8, 2003

Lucia & Fernando

Fernando: Today we gathered at Juli and Luis's place, La Hechicera (The Sorceress), to enjoy with a few other friends an exotic lunch and the beginning of the Caracas Victoria Society. It is difficult for me to find proper words to describe and thank Juli for this first and unique meeting … a beautiful place with orchids everywhere within the lushness of our tropical flora, an excellent lunch and the opportunity to talk about many things.

Within all the talking, there were many subjects but the beginning was how all this became possible and the way how each of us got involved… passion for plants, the Internet, IWGS list, Orchids Society list, water lilies, Victoria, Kit, Ben, Guillermo, Dorothy, Juli, Luis and me. And at the end it sounds funny, but Caracas it is still a small city and the Internet has brought the world to us and us to each other.

It looks like we have a real opportunity to start this beautiful project by having Victoria plants privately and in public places like the Caracas Botanic Garden. Juli´s place is going to be the nursery for the project. The main reason is the small temperature changes between day and night at her place and also because it is easy for me to go to there to teach Juli about water lilies and Victoria.

Conversation after lunch

Dorothy: Back from Juli and Luis and a lovely huge lunch, we came to the conclusion that only Kit, Ben and Guillermo (the Colombian one, not my husband) were missing to have made a most memorable occasion! Juli had all her flowering orchids on display and each one was more beautiful than the next one. Lunch was a sort of Indian menu with curried shrimp, mutton with a coriander sauce, some delicious rice with grated coconut, raisins and some other nuts, a salad with mango, tomato and other herbs, and a chicken salad. All this was washed down with wine and sangria and to top it Juli had made an ice cream and a dessert was brought by one of the other guests. Professor Leandro Aristeguieta, "father" of most present botanists in this country, completed a lively group.

Juli: The core of the society was present (Dot, Fernando and me with our respective spouses), Sonia Angeli, my dearest friend and horticultural partner, and her husband Teo and, last but not least, my favorite teacher Professor Leandro Aristeguieta and his dear wife Diana. Leandro was my teacher at the Universidad Central de Venezuela here in Caracas in my favorite subject, guess? BOTANY of course. Everybody was very excited and I think we have a great team.

November 10, 2003

Today Sonia and I went over to the Fernando´s place (El Toro) to learn the beginning of water gardening and in the afternoon Sonia´s son sent us the aquarium which was placed in my orchid house at a place chosen by Fernando. Next Wednesday Fernando will come over to our place to do the planting. We already have all the required stuff and anxiously await him. Fernando approved of the place where we plan to build our little pond and this construction will begin next Monday.

Luis & Dorothy


Guillermo and Sonia

Gallery of Additional Images | Gallery of El Toro | Starting The Seeds
Sonia's Bucket Babies | Sonia's Bucket Victoria's First Flower

Expedition to Parque de la Exótica Flora Tropical
Fernando Santos | Dorothy Whittembury | Guillermo Angulo

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