The Philippines is blessed with a very high biodiversity, including the plants living in its remaining forest cover. Trees alone comprise about 3500 species. Just to research on a species a day would take about 10 years to finish all of just the trees. Then there are still the shrubs, herbs, ferns etc. Through this blog we hope to introduce you to some important plants in the forest before they completely disappear because of habitat destruction.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
And They Said You Can't Landscape with Philippine Native Plants...
Bonsai Society booth
Yes it has always been possible but not easily realizable. For one, most of the plants we have known in our gardens for as far as we could remember are mostly exotics. Even the plants mentioned in our folk song 'Bahay Kubo' growing in the periphery of the vernacular house are all non-natives. The Spaniards dictated and drove the Indios to plant these common vegetables, all familiar edible fare for the colonizers. And even upto now, colonial mentality is very evident in Philippine gardening as most ornamental plants you find in local gardens are exotic plants. But hopefully that would not be for long.
George Mendoza's booth
This year's Philippine Horticultural Society's Annual Garden Show showcased our lesser known Philippine plant natives in their garden and plant exhibits. Most landscape participants used a significant number of Philippine species in coming up with their innovative and well designed landscape displays. The Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society was privileged to be given a booth to landscape, but among the participants it had the extra goal of using pure native species in its design. I was given the task to do the design and Susan Topacio and her Jardin Isabel team was so generous to execute the booth for the society. With the help of Jun Golamco and the very vigilant PNPCSI members Anthony Arbias, Ronald Achacoso, George Yao, Joey Diaz with Ernie Alvaran, it became possible to exhibit a 100 percent Philippine plant display for the PNPCSI horti booth. The design used hard and geometric accessories to emphasize and contrast the lushness of Philippine green. It was also stressed by the society board to use very little, if not none at all, critically endangered species to promote responsible conservation. So what found their way into the booth were landscape staples like Osmoxylon lineare (miyagos), Podocarpus costalis (maki or igem dagat), Dracaena multiflora (limestone dracaena or false yucca), Carmona retusa (fookien tea), Murraya paniculata (kamuning) and Asplenium nidus (dapo). Lesser popular but also cultivated species like Ardisia squamulosa (tagpo), Canarium sp. (pagsahingan), Schismatoglottis spp. (alapayi), Amophophallus paenifolius (pungapong), Alocasia spp., Syzygium polycephaloides (lipote) and a few more were also thrown into the mix. A (cast resin) replica of the conservation symbol, Rafflesia, was used as the color centerpiece for the PNPCSI greens display.
If I were to be asked, I would call the PNPCSI booth 'At the Edge of the Rainforest'. Honestly since the once impenetrable rainforest is now becoming less and less in area, the forest perimeter, on the other hand, is increasing. Light is slowly being let into the once dark shade of tall canopy trees. So along with the disappearance of the big trees, some plants used to the shady growth are also lost. But others who were stunted by the lack of sunlight are now becoming evident and common. Thus more light loving plants like pioneer trees, brushes and grasses are replacing our rainforests.
So before the Philippine plant species completely vanish, let us hope they find their way into mainstream landscaping and planning. But it should be done properly, by cultivating the said specimens from propagation materials and not collect them straight out of the wild. We hope we in the PNPCSI have put out that proper message in our participation in the horti show. May we see many more beautiful native species, in variety and number, in our Philippine gardens.
To the Philippine Horticultural Society and everyone who helped in staging the PNPCSI display, our very warm gratitude!