Home sweet home for Hyland Hills Water World Horticulturist John Navant are the two greenhouses he calls home when he’s at work for Hyland Hills. It is his job to provide one of the most loved and talked about attractions at Water World, its amazing flowers, hanging displays, tropical gardens and topiaries. Year after year, guests comment about and take pictures of John’s pride and joy. Thankfully, his wife Shaylene, a horticulturist herself, for the City of Westminster, and son Eli, a freshman in Golden, share the same love of beautiful landscaping and amazing flowers. I mean he really cares about, and speaks with such pride about, what he does, so I would imagine dinnertime conversations include one or more tidbits about “work.”
Just a couple of months ago, John offered an opinion to Colorado State University’s Flower Trail Garden project which actually got published. He expressed an opinion that the Trial is very important to people in his field who are tasked with showcasing the best beautifiers that are available. But, with limited budgets and no direct access to the sellers, they don’t always get to see the newest and greatest flowers, trees and plants. He wants the Trial to be successful so he and others can learn first-hand (at a nearby location) what’s available and how you would take care of such beautifiers: how much and when do you water them; how do you care for them if they are sick; what to do about insects….he cares so deeply, it’s almost like they are his children. Do parents have favorites? John does, for flowers, it’s the classic darling, the Rose, and for trees it’s the mighty Oak tree.
No wonder he is often featured in industry trades such as the Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association (CNGA) and even the Denver Post GROW section last year, where he wrote a lengthy piece that was run as a Special-to-the-Post insertion featuring five super photos that showcased what Water World has to offer.
In 2018 the CNGA Pro-Green Expo honored John for all of his many volunteer contributions to the industry. He is rightly proud of that, but still plays it down a bit. It’s easy to see his love for horticulture though, because as he walks away, his sweatshirt speaks volumes: Horticuturasaurus Rex…my guess a reference to the dinosaur garden that sits next to Water World’s Voyage to the Center of the Earth super-ride. It has drawn a lot of praise for the display of prehistorically-appropriate foliage placed in that heavily and creatively landscaped arena.
John oversees a staff of 10-12 part-timers, all are hard-working individuals who take pride in the beauty of their work. His team is responsible for weeding, cleaning, fertilizing, trimming, and more, at displays all around the water park and additional shrubs and sidewalks around the District and outdoor pools. Water World remains his main focus though – and it’s an all-year project, with the two greenhouses full all year around. He says that when the weather turns cold, he retreats to his home, the greenhouses, where there is always something to be done.
A native of Colorado, John grew up in a wonderful home with filled with ten children and where his father, a renowned French chef, known for preparing scrumptious wild game dinners, would do just that. When not at work, John is a woodworker, working on everything from cradles to toy boxes, and even a bookcase for his wife…..WOW, what a guy!