In 1917 G. Leicester Thomas, Sr., a Frederick county landowner and entrepreneur, turned his goldfish and waterlily hobby into a business, Three Springs Fisheries. The business was so successful that in 1925 Leicester expanded and purchased the current 250-acre tract of land that is Lilypons Water Gardens.
Just five years later, the first Three Springs Fisheries catalog was mailed with great success! In fact, it was such a success that by 1935, the U.S.Postal Service decided that a post office must be established to handle the mail order parcels.
And the name for this new post office? Leicester's favorite operatic diva, Lily Pons, was then at the height of her career, playing lead roles in Hollywood films and thrilling audiences as a regular star at American and international opera houses. How perfect to name a place full of lily ponds after Lily Pons, the graceful opera star! Lily's publicity staff agreed, but the U.S. Postal Services wanted one word-thus Lilypons, Maryland became the new post office. A dedication ceremony was held on June 20, 1936. Miss Pons was present for the event, which was celebrated with much pomp and circumstance!†
In 1947, Leicester's son, Dr. G.L. Thomas, Jr., began management of the company, until 1966, when he was succeeded by brother-in-law C. Lease Bussard. In 1975, the founder's grandsons, Charles B. Thomas and George L. Thomas, III became owners of Three Springs Fisheries.
In 1978, Charles B. Thomas, as president, changed the name of our company to Lilypons Water Gardens, reflecting a focus on water gardening and our mission to be the source for water gardening materials and information. Charles was, and still is, a true waterlily aficionado. He discovered several new hybrid, including Nymphaea 'Louise' and Nymphaea 'Virginia'. In 1985 he co-founded the International Waterlily Association (now the International Waterlily and Water gardening Association, IWGS).
In 1997, Charles' four daughters became the fourth generation of Thomas' to own Lilypons Water Gardens. Margaret Thomas Koogle, Charles' oldest daughter presides as president, continuing Lilypons' mission to be the source for water gardening.
Margaret, recognizing the unique value of the natural beauty of Lilypons, aims to enhance improve the property as a destination for anyone to enjoy. In Margaret's own words, she wants Lilypons to be a place where people can nourish their soul.