PAT: The Man, The Legend

PondKeeper magazine published a special AQUALADE for Patrick Nutt in their Nov/Dec 2003 issue. It provided a wonderful picture of Pat and how he impacted a botanical garden, an industry, and countless people along the way.

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Patrick Nutt

Mover and Shaker

Although you couldn’t tell from looking at him (especially when he’s running a marathon) Patrick Nutt’s experience with water gardening goes back more than 60 years. Born in 1930, as a child he became intrigued with Perry’s Aquatic Nursery near his home in Hendon, England. Even then Pat was a positive get-it-done kind of person, and built his first pond using materials salvaged from the effects of the bombing raids. It seems only fitting that about a decade and a half later he would be hired by Longwood Gardens to help design and construct their tropical waterlily pools. We have Patrick Nutt to thank for Longwood’s transition from a fancy private garden to one of the world’s premier displays of water lilies and aquatic plants. Pat retired from Longwood in 1995, after 38 years of service. However he continues to lecture and volunteer there, tirelessly promoting water gardening and aquatic plants.

Plantsman and Hybridizer

Pat’s knowledge of aquatics goes very deep, especially when it involves getting them to grow into large healthy specimens. (He also is extremely knowledgeable about many other types of plants.) He is especially interested in soils, plant nutrition, hybridizing, and integrated pest management. Pat is a regular lecturer and writer on these topics, even as he continues to learn more about them by reading and combining old classics with new research. Some of the aquatic plant supplies we currently have at our disposal were formulated with help and testing from Pat.

What many water gardeners don’t realize is how indebted we are to Pat Nutt for some of the important hybrids we grow. He created the first Victoria hybrid and named it ‘Longwood Hybrid’. It is the Victoria variety most often grown around in private ponds and botanical gardens around the world. Pat also hybridized N. ‘Antares’, the first Nymphaea to be registered. This deep crimson tropical night-bloomer was bred to be a heavy bloomer and also do well under artificial light. ‘Aquarius’ is also one of this creations, a deep violet-blue tropical.

Student and Scholar

Patrick Nutt was born and educated in England, and he is fiercely proud of the precise, thorough, and rigorous instruction he received there after WWII, especially the horticultural education at Kew. His appreciation of this background makes him an extremely strong and active supporter and promoter of horticultural education for today’s students, especially those at Longwood Gardens’ excellent programs. Pat’s tremendous pride when he speaks about students is unmistakable and truly inspiring. The lifelong relationships he has with past students are the stuff of which traditions are made. Pat is a tireless advocate for students, working hard to place them in botanical gardens and other places around the globe. The word “mentor” was created for people just like Patrick Nutt.

Fun at a Party

Travelling with Pat or attending an event with him is always lots of fun. Besides being filled with information about plants and almost everything else, he’s got a keen sense of adventure, will try anything, and loves a good joke. He has traveled extensively to study and collect plants, most notably in Costa Rica and the Amazon. Those who were with him always smile at the mention of his name.

Thank you, Patrick Nutt, for being so multi-talented, devoted, enthusiastic, and professional in everything you do.