Saturday, July 31, 2021

Neri: Plant mamas and their collections


Marilyn Pilapil Rosario “inherited” her green thumb from her late Mom, Brizelda Mendoza Pilapil, who was into orchids. Myn grew up watching her Mom give tender loving care to an exotic collection of orchids. Small wonder then that she has an extensive orchid section in her garden today. However, she has chosen to seriously collect hoyas instead of orchids.

Myn has fond memories of the attractive hoya flowers in her Lola’s garden in Liloan which she used as earrings as a child. She found the flowers fascinating and always dreamt of having this plant in her garden someday.

Fast forward to married life in Los Baños, Laguna, as loving wife of Elpidio Rosario, Ph.D in Agriculture, and mother of four. She found time to go to the UP Los Baños Social Garden “Gubatum” section where plant traders sold all kinds of wild plants from the nearby forests. She bought a lot of what was called “dapo” (meaning plants from the forest) and this included different species of hoyas. Thus, started her treasured collection.

As an avid collector, Myn was in touch with other hoya enthusiasts, one of which was Torill Nhuus, president of the Swedish Hoya Society. Torill connected her to Nathalie Simonsson who was on a visit to UP Los Baños with plans of searching for hoyas on Mt. Makiling. She was not given permission to scale the mountain, so Myn shared with her whatever “dapo” was in her garden.

The hoyas she gave to Nathalie found their way to Dale Kloppenburg, a UC Berkeley botanist and an authority on hoyas. He studied the specimens thoroughly and then to honor its source, registered it in the name of Marylin (wrong spelling) Rosario and called it Hoya Rosarioae. So now, Myn can proudly say that there’s a species named after her among the species of hoyas.

The hoya plant is like a vine and the flowers are immensely beautiful with their intriguing color combinations. “While other collectors choose to replicate the forest-like condition and let it climb trees, I choose to grow them in pots with 50 to 60 percent of sunlight with the use of nets,” said Myn. “Let’s promote this plant as a number of beautiful species originate from the Philippines. These are easily propagated and can be shared with your friends and loved ones.”


Susan Otero Pacheco lives in the midst of a “forest.” Yes, the eight-hectare property of the Pachecos known as Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort, is filled with towering trees and lush plants as well as quiet nooks and quaint caves. Years ago, the place was just their vacation hideaway. But even then, the nature-loving family head Francisco “Jun” Pacheco Jr. had insisted on planting more trees and preserving the natural terrain so the property will remain as close to nature as possible. Susan took her cue from him and began to grow more plants of different kinds and sizes. She started out with flowering plants to give color to the surroundings and since she had lots of space she continued planting and planting whatever would grow on their cliff top paradise.

Her interest in cacti came when her daughter gifted her with a pretty cactus. She loved how it thrived in her garden and wanted more. She added to it little by little and soon got hooked. She then found sources from near and far and started a collection of cacti and with it some succulents. Most of her unique varieties come from Benguet in Northern Luzon, California, Taiwan and Thailand. There are too many to count, Susan said of her collection, and she disclosed that actually they are using up to 500 square meters of land.

As for their care, she uses a well draining soil medium and waters them only when the soil is dry. Susan sees to it that her cacti are in a sunny area but not under direct sunlight. “Cool weather is the best. That is why I keep trees and other bushy plants around them to provide shade and moisture.”


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