The panorama on the sunrise side: an awesome view of Malarayat

The quiet panorama on the sunrise side of the farm: an awesome view of Mount Malaráyat and the river below the gap.

24 June 2012


We have visiting family (from California) at this time and what best to serve them this beautiful Sunday morning but súman (native rice cakes) and tropical fruits! Here in Batangas, there is a wonderful selection of suman, made from either glutinous rice (malagkit) or ground cassava (giniling na kamoteng kahoy). The fruits in season too, are dazzlingly delicious! Mangoes and jackfruit reign supreme at this time of the year, while my nephew and niece are getting themselves acquainted with guayabano. My neighbor's rambutan tree already has fruit and gave us some. The red, hairy skin takes some getting used to, which initially spooked the visitors but got hooked once they tasted it!

21 June 2012


Hardy plants that are so easy to grow are Sansevieras, a family of succulents that are not only almost fail-proof but will actually even tolerate neglect. Given the right spot in the landscape or potted in a proportionate container, sansevieras are very useful to fit into any garden or interior.

On the right is the Sanseviera trifasciata, nicknamed the Snake plant or sometimes even more sinister, the Mother-in-law's Tongue. Not many people know that with enough space, this will grow waist

high or even a little more, making it a useful border plant.

There is a variegated version, equally if not  even more popular (left). It has yellow borders that define the leaves' shapes, and gives it a flaming look. Recently, we've tried mixing both the plain and the striped into the same pot but it is taking quite some time to make it look natural and casual.

There are also dwarf versions of both, pictured below.

18 June 2012

Faux Bonsais

Desert Rose (Adenium obesum)

Not everyone has the time nor the space to garden, yet I do not know anyone who does not enjoy, or at least appreciate plants. All the more time-consuming is the horticultural art of growing bonsais. It requires a lot of patience, skill, a good eye, and a LOT of time.

But the next best thing people can have is to have select plants that would look good in bonsai dishes. For some months now, I have been combining unique pots with the right plants and training the branches to create a handsome, sculptural look.

Ficus nana

For a reasonable amount, we are starting to sell off some of these pieces. They would look best on tabletops, by entranceways, on a porch where it will get lots of sun. We can only feature a handful here in the blog, so come and visit to see the others that we have.

Dwarf Pandan

11 June 2012


Ahh, guavas! A perennial favorite, rich in Vitamin C and amazingly versatile.  Next to the aratiles tree and its fruits, this would be among those trees that visitors get dewy-eyed about whenever they come to the farm. And with good reason! Guavas (Psidium guajava, bayabas) are becoming quite under-rated and getting harder to come by in stores, and there are friends who perpetually ask for some as it is no longer as ubiquitous as it used to be.

In my household, we prefer to cook our sinigang using guavas, which gives the broth a beautiful pink shade and an immensely-delicious and aromatic gustatory experience.

07 June 2012


Aralias (Polyscias) are foliage plants which beautifully fill in gaps in a landscape or serve as breaks in an otherwise monotony of stellar plants all trying to catch one's attention, putting on a supporting role to complement and complete a grouping of colorful tropical plants. They're generally bushy and each variety grows into a rich tapestry of textures and hues. That said, it's so easy trim them as their free form will always find a way to balance itself. They would also look handsome as potted specimens and will even thrive partially indoors.

04 June 2012

Fern Sporangia

Ferns are not the most popular plants, which is quite unusual given the fact that they all have attractive leaves in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and colors. I have been fascinated by ferns since I was small but it was not until I was grown up that I learned ferns produce spores, more often on its underside, which are the closest it produces as plants bear seeds to propagate itself. These usually appear in the mature fronds, and will eventually scatter when the frond dries up after it wilts.

Now, the spores scattered by the wind will hopefully find a damp spot for it to "germinate," fair enough. But if you have a garden devoted to ferns where we perpetually add varieties that we sometimes have difficulty distinguishing one full-grown variety from another, try to imagine how baffling it is to identify sporelings!

So we have started culturing spores which, now that I write it, I realize how intimidating (and geeky) it sounds. With practice, we should have a good success rate in propagating Maidenhairs, Oak-Leafs, Staghorns, and Bird's Nests. Wish us luck!