2024 Symposium Program & Guide now available

Download 2024 Symposium Program Guide (PDF 1.9MB)


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Tuesday, July 16th

  • 3.00 pm: Check-In opens at our host hotel (see Hotel section below)
  • 4.00 pm – 6.00 pm: Registration takes place in the foyer of our host hotel
  • 7.00 pm: Opening Reception in the hotel, with canapés provided for attendees

After the reception, if you would like something more to eat, the hotel has a restaurant, or there are over twenty restaurants within a 5 to 25 minute walk in Reading town centre (a list of suggestions will be supplied to attendees).

A hospitality room in the hotel will be set aside this evening until midnight, for attendees to meet up. Soft drinks and snacks will be provided.  Other drinks are available from the hotel bar.

Wednesday,  July 17 - Tour Day

Breakfast is provided in our rate for hotel residents, with Hot Buffet available. We gather in the hotel foyer at 7.45am, for loading coaches.

Today we visit two of the UK’s premier horticultural establishments, the
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden Wisley. Both include plenty of interest for water gardeners, with both outdoor water gardens and indoor tropical ponds. Staff at Wisely have kindly agreed to give us introductory tours and answer questions.  A picnic lunch will be provided. Both gardens have cafes if you require additional refreshments, or want a snack before our return trip.

We arrive back at our host hotel around 8.00 pm. Dinner is on your own. The hotel restaurant is open until 9.30pm. There are many restaurant options a walk away in Reading. Our hospitality room in the hotel will be open until midnight.

Tropical Lilyhouse - RBG Kew
RHS Wisley Gardens - Canal
Bennetts Water Gardens - Gazebo
Longstock Park Water Garden
Longstock Park Water Garden

Thursday, July 18- Tour Day 

Breakfast is provided in our rate for hotel residents, with Hot Buffet available. We gather in the hotel foyer at 7.45am, for loading coaches

We head South-West today, with a visit to the famous Longstock Water Gardens, on route to Bennetts Water Gardens, in Dorset. Here you can view a national collection of waterlilies with hundreds of cultivars housed in ornamental lakes within the expansive eight-acre grounds. A sandwich lunch and refreshments will be provided during the day, and a supper before we make the return on our coaches.

We arrive back late at our host hotel. The hotel bar and foyer is open a little later if you want to socialise there. Our hospitality room in the hotel is open until midnight.


Friday, July 19th – Education Day

  • Breakfast is provided in our rate for hotel residents, with Hot Buffet available. The theme:The pivotal role of ponds in greening our gardensWith wildlife struggling from habitat loss, pollution, and weather extremes, our gardens have become vital refuges. In addition to the wide range of plants, fish, dragonflies and other water organisms that thrive in our water gardens, many organisations note their value in encouraging and supporting amphibians and bird life too. How do we encourage gardeners to create diverse and beneficial water features? And how can the industry play its part in supporting biodiversity and becoming more sustainable, responding to environmental concerns?8.00 – 8.30: Day attendees should pick up their Registration pack in the hotel lobby. If you have parked in the hotel car park, please show your registration lanyard at the hotel reception to arrange your free parking for the day.

    8.30: Those with Silent Auction  items should bring them to the conference room shortly before the conference opens.

    8.45 am: Conference opening addressThe full conference day timetable will be emailed in advance to all those registered.

    Our currently confirmed speakers are:

    Prof. Dr. Wolfram Kircher of Anhalt University, Germany, speaking on:

    Natural swimming pools: Filtration techniques and feedback from real-life examples

    Wolfram is co-author of the well-received book ‘How to build a natural swimming pool'.


    Zijun Li, from Guangzhou, China, speaking on:

    Current State and Trends of Water Lily Hybridization

    Zijun is hybridizer of the award-winning Nymphaea ‘Detective Erika’


    Dr. Matthew Hill, Bournmouth University, England, speaking on:

    Garden ponds: The most important freshwater habitat in urban landscapes?

    Matthew reports on research into how pond management affects biodiversity


    Martin Kelley, Fairwater Ltd., Pulborough, England

    Water plants in context: The use of plants as a function of water garden design

    Martin trained with Anthony Archer-Wills, and is a long-established consultant to leading garden designers


    Panel discussions

    We shall have a panel of Growers, looking into questions including:

    Reducing unwanted hitch-hikers such as duckweed, pests, and viruses;

    Considering plastic use in the industry

    Finding environmentally friendly fertilizers


    We also intend to have a panel of Hybridizers, discussing techniques and concerns


    Poster Presentations

    Current posters include:

    Morphological differences and distribution in the genus Victoria

    Study on the developmental morphology and formation mechanism of vivpary in N. micrantha

    Cytological characterization and color formation mechanism of reddish orange anther
    and pollen in Nelumbo nucifera ‘Yindu Zhimi’

    We are now accepting poster abstracts until 16th June, and the poster voted best will receive a prize of $250. See this link for further details.


  • The full conference day program.We shall also have our popular Silent Auction (see the symposium home page, near base, for details). The Education Day includes a buffet lunch, and refreshments will be provided at the start of the day, mid-morning and mid-afternoon. At the end of the afternoon our Silent Auction will come to a close, and winning bidders can take their items away. The conference ends at 5.15pm.
  • During the early evening you can prepare for the evening banquet. The foyer area and bar will be open.
  • 7.15 pm: Our final-night banquet is held in the hotel for those who have registered for the full symposium (or for the Education Day with banquet).
  • Later evening: Our hospitality room in the hotel will be open until midnight.

Saturday, July 20th

  • Breakfast is provided in our rate for hotel residents, with Hot Buffet available.
  • Bid farewell to those departing on their return journeys or those joining the post-symposium. Room checkout for those departing today is 12.00 noon.


We are offering two extra days of events for those who can arrive earlier or stay later. N.B. There are limited spaces on these days, and initially we are only offering the Pre- and Post- to those who are registering for the main symposium. (If space remains available nearer the time, we may offer these days, and the education day, as standalone events.)

Oxford Botanic Garden


Tuesday, July 16th – Garden Visits

  • 16th July 6.30 am – 7.15 am: Pick up your registration packs in the hotel foyer
  • Breakfast is provided in our rate for hotel residents, with Hot Buffet available.
  • 7.50 am: Gather in the hotel lobby for boarding our coach
  • N.B. For those staying the previous night in our host hotel, you will need to add the night of the 15th July to your hotel booking.

We visit three gardens: Oxford Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in the UK, sited in the historic City of Oxford. This garden still carries the traditional layout of taxonomic beds of related plants. The garden also houses a small tropical conservatory pond, and a small hardy-lily pond.

Hidcote Garden is in the ‘Arts and Crafts’ style, and set in the rolling Cotswold Hills. First laid out in the early 1900s, it has a selection of outdoor spaces forming gardens within a garden.

Also in the Cotswolds, we have a private visit to Sezincote, to see the landscape around this Indian-styled house, with stream garden, and formal rill canals.

If there is time, we shall also make a brief stop in the historic and picturesque town of Burford, for a photo opportunity. A pack lunch is provided for the day. We return to our host hotel in Reading in time to join the evening reception for the main symposium.


Saturday, July 20th – Garden and Grower Visits

  • Breakfast is provided in our rate for hotel residents, with Hot Buffet available.
  • Bid farewell to those departing on their return journeys elsewhere.
  • 8.05 am: Meet in the foyer area to load the coach. If you are heading on elsewhere at the end of the day (rather than returning to Reading), you will need to load your luggage onto the coach as well, and ensure that your checkout is complete.

We have three visits today. Wakehurst is a wild botanic garden (managed by Kew). The extensive grounds include woodland, a water garden, stream & ponds, and formal gardens near the old house. Staff at the two growers have kindly agreed to give us introductory tours and answer questions. The Millennium Seed Bank is also in the grounds, and has a small outdoor display area.

Our other visits are to two of the largest commercial waterplant growers in the UK, Anglo Aquatic and Beaver Plants. These growers have kindly offered to provide refreshments and a simple lunch for us during the day.

At the end of the day the coach will drop off at

  • Gatwick (South Terminal) around 6pm, for those heading out through Gatwick Airport (LGW) or wanting trains to central London (Victoria) or South London; and then…
  • at Premier Inn, Ealing Broadway, around 7.10pm for those wanting to stay at this or nearby hotels (also convenient for a further visit to Kew). Ealing Broadway station is only a few minutes walk away for frequent fast trains (Elizabeth Line) to Heathrow Terminals (LHR, 20-30 mins), or transport into central London (including Paddington), and West London.
  • The coach then returns to our Reading host hotel, arriving around 8.20 pm. N.B. For those staying the night in our host hotel, you will need to add the night of the 20th July to your hotel booking.