By Leo Leonidou
A NICOSIA man has won the prestigious Banksin
water-lily competition in the United States, becoming the first
Cypriot to take the top prize in the competition's eight-year
history with his entry N. 'Maria'.
Andreas Protopapas, 51, an electronics engineer with a love of
plants, went one better than last year, when he was the runner-up.
"Due to the fact that I live in Cyprus, I had to send the
water-lilies via courier back in April and used special packaging
in order to keep them wet and moisturised. A week ago, I was
notified that I had won."
Protopapas said he first started out growing water plants in
home aquariums 20 years ago and then progressed to building ponds
"Water-lilies grow in water and anything that grows in water
fascinates me," he said. "The flowers open on the surface
of the water and look so beautiful. They will open in the morning
and close between 4 and 5 pm. Each individual flower lasts for
When asked what made his lilies so special, Protopapas said "they
contain more petals, have stronger colours, with some leaves
and flowers being multi-coloured."
He said lilies grow naturally in lakes all over Europe and are
mostly white in colour, although they can also be found in red,
pink and yellow.
"Few people grow them in Cyprus as the climate is too hot,
resulting in petal burning. The best time to grow the flowers
in Cyprus is in
Cypriot wins top prize in the
April, May and June and they should be planted
in water, in special baskets which allow the roots to come out."
Protopapas' growing skills have also been put to use by Nicosia
Municipality, who asked him to plant around 40 lilies in the
Municipal Gardens five to six years ago.
In order to promote interest in hybridising new colours, forms,
and sizes of both tropical and hardy water-lilies, the annual
competition is held by the International Water Garden Society
(IWGS) where hybridisers can display their new creations.
In the past few years, the competition has
resulted in the introduction of several noteworthy new hybrids:
plants with unusual flower shapes and colours; new leaf patterns
and colours and new viviparous lilies.
IWGS promotes knowledge, leadership, and standards of excellence
in water gardening and related aquatic plant areas.
grows in water fascinates me'