Getting Down and Dirty for the Flowers

“She called almost midnight asking me to fetch her because her luggage from Kiangan were too much for her to carry. And you know what were in those bags? She traveled eight hours on public bus to bring home white stones for her garden in Tabuk!”

I laughed so hard hearing this tale of my sister-in-law as told by Hubby’s cousin. Two months on and unbeknownst to me, I shall be doing the same thing. Albeit not as far as she traveled but on a recent roadtrip, I filled my handbag with white stones (oh dear what has become of me?). We rested to drink in the mountain view and the area we chose to stop by happened to have tons of  stones left from national road expansion. As the boys were busy hooting, I gathered white stones to landscape my favorite part of the house – the patio beside the master’s bedroom. I had no container and we were riding the motorcyle, leaving me no choice but to place them in my handbag. My helper couldn’t stop laughing when she saw me unpack.

I adore my helper and in many ways she is more of a friend to me but I was not going to give her the last laugh. Over the weekend and tired from days of entertaining visitors, I begged Hubby for a little picnic over the  mountains on the very same spot.  Always thinking two steps ahead, he knew it was my simple ploy to get more stones. Thus along with our sandwich and coffee Hubby loaded the shovel and some sacks at the back of the truck.  After our breakfast picnic, us – including our helper (Little C got busy practicing his rock climbing skills) gathered more and more stones until I knew it was enough to create a visual change for the patio.


The before photo.

My sister-in-law hired people to landscape some areas surrounding the house. But no one is at home for the last two years and when we finally arrived, it was like having a private jungle (what you see on the second photo is a result of weeks of clearing). I would not even dare to open the door to the patio for a month although Hubby tried to clear off some branches. And frankly I was more interested to devour the books in the library upstairs than to step on the the mini-wilderness that is just beside our bedroom.

When the summer heat became unbearable and there was no way to stay indoors, I noticed the patio is the cooler part of the house until lunch time.  I saw broken furniture lying around – some with legs off – that with a nail and screw here and there thanks to Hubby’s ever reliable handyman skills, we were able to give them new life. I dragged the root furniture composed of a table and two chairs. I say root  because these are actually made of tree roots fashioned to become coffee tables and even computer tables. Frankly I’m not a fan of these space-hoarder designs but buying a new wood furniture in zen design would get me thrown out of the house. So I gotta make do with what’s free.

I come to read here and work in the mornings every single day. Until my attention shifted from the book to the plants growing in the patio. It looks so drab and lonely something has to be done. But I have never planted anything in life so I had to ask my then helper to do something about it. A little cleaning here and there and the patio became bare clean except for the remaining plant boxes – a remainder that this was once a cherished place.

When the new helper arrived and she showed no signs of gardening skills, it was up to me to continue the job. First I asked/collected flowers and plants, everywhere we went – and to the horror of my husband. The only flowering thing we have are the potted roses. Although they are of  varied colors I needed something more colorful and vibrant. Something which beauty lasts longer than a week. And that’s how I found the China Rose Coleus fascinating. When I first brought home a cutting from the local resort we frequent to, Hubby went like, “that’s weed and they’re too common!” But I ignored his comments for I found them to be very Victorian. Yes they maybe common in Kiangan for I see them by the roadside but they are new and definitely gorgeous before my very eyes. With velvety texture and vibrant colors of green, pink, and purple leaf, they bring to life any dead corner of a yard. I potted some and use it as centerpiece and oh wow it is a showstopper.

Another colorful plant I brought home is called Party Time. And thank goodness it is thriving so well! It has bright pink and green leaf I am hoping to line it up along one of the edges of the patio.

For the planters boxes, I brought home 8 o’clock flowers of colors pink, yellow, and orange from Tabuk. So called because they bloom around this time. I see plenty of them grown here in Kiangan roadside but i don’t dare ask Hubby to stop the car for awhile so I can go get cuttings. He’ll probably tell me to walk home alone. I did that once and three days of carefully tending to the plant with stunning violet flowers, Winter the hyperactive labrador chew them. I am not recovered yet from that sorrow thus I ain’t stopping the car for another heartbreak. If I had to get flowers from as far where it’s more convenient it’s fine. At least they serve souvenirs from our trips. The 8 o’clock reminds us of our first visit to Tabuk City.

Yesterday’s visit to Nagacadan, I asked cuttings of 10 o’clock flowers. Oh they are white and white flowers are my favorite in the world! I took enough for the patio and plant boxes they just have to grow and please me.

I also brought home tubers of Brazillian Butterfly Plant. They are very easy to grow with dainty light purple flowers.

And when we visited Banaue, we  brought home seeds of Marigold we took from the viewpoint. They are now about  five inches high and I can’t wait for the flowers to cheer up the whole patio! Really nowadays, the bait for me is plants and flowers. If I can’t get  flowers to bring home and plant, I ain’t coming honey!

Enough with the flowers. They are hardly as interesting but for a first-time gardener, I can’t help but gush at every bloom!

A Little White Rock Story

The white rocks I learned is much coveted here for landscaping. When the municipality fixed the road adjacent to the patio, these type of rocks were overturned and neighbors gathered them much to my envy. I wanted so much even just three to four pieces but Hubby at that time was away and I was sure he won’t like the idea of me haggling to bring home those rocks. When I made a slight comment about it, he quickly waved off the idea and said to leave those rocks for the neighbors.

When the brouhaha of the white rocks died down, I saw those unwanted little pieces and I threw them over the fence to arrange later. Seeing my intent to use them later for landscape, the neighbors commented the bigger white rocks could have been better. I smiled at them and went on to work. See that big heart? Hubby thinks I made it for him he celebrated with whisky last night but shhhhh… but it’s actually for the neighbors. My way of saying I love and appreciate them beyond our small talks of the weather. I am very socially awkward I am learning I shall let the flowers and the plants do the talking. At least, every time they look over the fence, they have something to smile about.

Anyhow so obsessed I am tending to them, arranging the rocks, plants and flowers and make sure dead corners come alive that my other neighbor commented “Panay ang ground beautification mo ah.”


Tips To Design Your Garden


1. Establish fundamental lines. Give your garden design a sense of direction. For the patio flower garden, visitors get to see it’s promise from the front gate by a quick look on the left side upon entering the property. The white rocks lined up provides continuity alongside the house.

2. Be true to your site. We all want to have the unique and rarest flowers and plants growing in our own yard. But if you don’t have the money to pay for it, why buy when you can start with free cuttings. They maybe ordinary but you can create a story in your own garden. And the more personalize your garden becomes, the more attractive it is. What matters is not what you see but that you see something.

3. Get creative and recycle materials. Old jars as garden ornaments, old pots, old watering cans, give new life to them by using as plant boxes.

4. Remember chairs and table. Provide seating area to take time and appreciate your work.

5. Keep a list of plants and flowers  you want and try to tick one off every month.

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