NewsPositively San Diego


Meet the man behind Balboa Park's iconic lily pond

Posted at 9:05 AM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 12:05:07-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Whether you're a tourist seeing it for the first time or a local who's seen it a dozen times, the lilies in Balboa Park's lily pond are arguable its most tremendous appeal.

"There's something restful about water lilies, and they're beautiful. There's the whole mystique about these beautiful perfect things coming out of the muck," said David Curtright, the master gardener of the pond.

"I start bringing them in March through spring. I add hearties, and then when the weather warms up, I start putting in tropicals [lilies],” he added.

ABC 10News caught up with Curtright as he mixed up the soil and carefully prepared this year's tropical Victoria Cruziana for its debut.

"If all goes well, this thing will expand and expand until sometime at the end of October,” he said.

Every water lily in the pond is thanks to Curtright’s meticulous efforts to grow, maintain and transfer the lilies from his Escondido backyard each year.

"I have a few tanks, 8-foot round tanks, and I've got a few ponds in my yard,” he said.

Every week, Curtright comes by with a helper to maintain the lilies, whether that's removing a dead leaf or removing the plant entirely to replace.

Before the park hired Curtright four years ago to bring in his water lilies, he was among San Diego's water lily enthusiasts eager to show off his pride and joy at the iconic location.

"I am one of the fortunate of the earth to be able to do what I love. I've wanted to be in this pond for years,” said Curtright.

Once the newly planted Victoria runs its course in about nine months, San Diego won't see the dazzling display again until next year.