MULTI TEXTURES Stones on the pavement, rich wood, colorful bromeliads, lush ferns and hanging leaves all combine to create a variety of textures. PHOTOS BY JOEY AND LOUIE ENARIO OF NEEDS & SOLUTIONS AND STANLEY ONG
Plant nurseries are curious places. They deal with the transience and mutability of nature: decay and rebirth, a lack of permanence, and the fact that everything is dependent on something else. Imagine then a garden within a nursery, set on two hectares of fertile land, and you get an idea that this garden, which is an extension of the nursery, changes with two seasons of wet and dry.
It’s a lot of work and dedication, but luckily there is someone happy to do it.
Plants are a consuming passion for Cebuano architect, landscape artist and gardener Jaime Chua, whose penchant for organizing things and creating settings helped get him started in gardening.
“I love plants and I always wanted to organize things, make nice environments. My background in architecture was motivation for me to create a total setting to situate a structure in.
Architecture is also dependent on planning; even if a garden may not seem like it’s been planned, there’s always some form of order that goes into its creation,” says Chua.
From the driveway, a separate path leads to the gardener’s weekend house which fronts a serene lotus pond. Clearly meant to be a perch from which you can look at the rolling terrain, the house is a glass box with a view deck. Perfect for admiring the scenery with friends or quiet reflection at sunrise or sunset.
Stunning and exotic species
The nursery begins where the garden naturally seems to end. There, huge Japanese majestic Vriesea imperialis are carefully planted for their immediate effect on the surroundings. The most stunning and exotic species of flowering tropical plants and shrubs like giant bromeliads and palms make up parts of the huge lawn. Neat rows and hangings of Tillandsia, Neoregelia, Medinilla, strapleaf Vandas, Phalaenopsis doritis and Heliconias fill up several sheds built over a slope.
Tall hedges of different varieties of bamboo surround the property; some are bagged and balled ready for transporting to a new landscaping project, others set firmly on the ground.
For Chua, gardening has to be an active pursuit. It can’t be a hobby you can start and put down like a crossword puzzle. He goes to the nursery at least twice a week for some handwork and digging. Even with workers around to do the daily nurturing, he still believes that working the soil yourself makes you a better gardener. It is the only way to learn, and a great part of learning is making mistakes. There will always be a chance to plant something new, if something doesn’t work.
“Watch, observe, be patient, nothing grows overnight, but most of all enjoy your plants. See what the weather gives you and learn that there are things you cannot control, and you will just have to adapt to.” Words of wisdom from someone who loves making gardens happen.
Reprinted from Vol. 5 No. 1 of Cocoon Magazine, with Wynn Wynn Ong on the cover, and available at selected magazine outlets nationwide.