AS THE nursery rhyme goes, “...like pretty maids all in a row.” And that’s exactly what we discovered at the lush, verdant flowering terrain, where Nellie and husband Antonio—businessman and Honorary Consul to the Slovak Republic—have not only set up flowering fields, but a bustling, vegetable and herbal enclave located ideally on the undulating hills of Barangay Sirao, Cebu.

Before the whole lockdown began, our group of six nature lovers were warmly escorted to the vast complex. We started with the numerous greenhouses, shielding rare species of veggies and herbs, then on to the great outdoors where we ogled in admiration at the orchids from Singapore and Thailand, and colorful Gerbera from Holland.

But, we must interrupt, that Nellie’s first love are roses! The kind that smothers your senses with their distinct scent and beauty!

Among the juiciest veggies we came across were her tomatoes, arugula, romaine lettuce etc. which Nellie successfully supplies many hotels

and restaurants!

Lunch was served ever so healthily with the Chiu heirlings assisting with their impeccable catering mode!

We thoroughly enjoyed your crispy and fresh salads, Chef Jason! After that fabulous tour of her Flower and Vegetable Kingdom, Queen

Nellie’s “take home” was a bouquet of her famous flowers, roses included!

Like pretty little maids all in a row! Million thanks, Tony, Nellie and kids!

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One of Nellie’s guests was balikbayan Maribel Kokseng-Kratz from West Covina California, whose own blossoming rose garden is also

something to see!

Totally hands-on, Maribel talks to her roses, and behold! One in her collection is the rare “Pope John Paul 2” (not in photos) which I found irresistible!

Another kingdom in the making, Maribel?