Of course a lot of our articles in the past, talked about botanical gardens, hybridisers, private gardens… The wonderful thing about this branche is that we don’t have competitors, we have colleagues. It was about time to make a different chapter about all our colleagues around the world.
I think Gianluca is a wonderful one to start with. We went to visit him in August 2017 on a typical hot (not too hot for us Belgians though) and sunny Italian day.
We started our day with a very nice breakfast, but that is a little bit off topic here 🙂
He was born in 1972 in Rivarolo Canavese, a quiet town in the province of Turin. He graduated on multimedia and training science and was a teacher for years.
This is who Gianluca is on paper. To us, he is a passionate, kind and fun to be with waterlily-person and he calls himself the Lord of the waterlilies.
Starting with fishing trips…
Gianluca took us to the place where everything started for him, where he build his first pond. Well, it’s the place were we all seem to start, our backyard!
His first pond is still there, it’s the pond he built in 2000 to keep the fish he caught on fishing trips.
That’s when his intrest in aquatic plants started. Fishing helped him to be near water places and to start collecting native water plants, like Nymphaea alba and Nuphar lutea.
As you can tell by the picture, the Nuphar did very well. So well, it’s getting harder and harder to find any fish in there.
…Continuing in collecting aquatic plants…
You always begin with one, but never know with how many it’s going to end with.
This is something we all know by now. While growing these two species, his intrest in aquatic plants was triggered, he started doing more research about aquatics and in particular waterlilies.
So it’s only natural that the next step was buying more varieties and later on even exchanging plants.
Ponds and barrels were added, but as we all know, there’s never enough space!
…Ending with a nursery
In 2010, Gianluca bought a new piece of land, about 5000 m2 and could finally start his nursery. We could only dream about that much land… and we do 🙂
The nursery has more than 400 hardy hybrids and about 50 tropicals. 150 or more lotus and 500 different varieties of Iris. As you can imagine, this is not a small nursery anymore and it keeps on growing.
When we visited, we have counted more than 40 ponds, a few greenhouses and a lot of barrels and yes, there still is some space left to grow! I know Gianluca wants to become the biggest nursery in Europe, he might be able to do so. Sometimes I think he owns a botanical garden, instead of a nursery.
His goal is to have all the varieties, but because the list is that long already, it’s going to be very hard, read impossible. Especially because each year, new varieties seem to pop up everywhere you go. It would be good if some hybridisers would make a better selection, as too many are similar to already existing hybrids.
Gianluca says he has no favourite waterlily: “I love them all, that’s why I want to have them all.” As you can see, he does not lack ambition!
Although he collected and grew some seeds form waterlilies and lotus, he is not interested in hybridising. This process takes up a lot of time and space and there are already too many wonderful hybridisers in this world.
His definition of a good hybrid: “A good hybrid needs a good selection, it should make a lot of flowers and have a new shape and or colour, it should have unique characteristics.”
“My future plan is adding more ponds and pots, to grow as many varieties as I can, to have the biggest collection of hardy waterlilies in Europe and maybe in the world… ?”
Not only because he wants to have the biggest collection, but first of all to prevent the loss of varieties. He feels that nobody cares for them.
He’s already working on that, together with a good friend. So there will be two different places with all the hardy waterlilies correctly named. This would be a good way to conserve species and hybrids in the long run.
Gianluca is one of the founding members of EWLA (European Waterlily and Lotus Association). We wanted to know how they could make a difference in the waterlily-world.
“I think that the main goal should be to give the customer a truly named plant. Not just a white or red waterlily without name, although most customers don’t care about true varieties, it’s our job to do this right.”
“EWLA should improve interest on aquatic plants and work to certify quality of the plants that are sold in the different nurseries in Europe.”