Garden Shows Boost Horticulture Industry

Vangie Go and her landscape booth at a recent
garden show. Note her prize-winning orchids.

Garden shows create more livelihood opportunities than most people would imagine. They serve as an engine that propels the growth of the ornamental plant business. And that is why garden shows have become a regular presentation by various horticultural groups year-round.

First to be staged this year is Horticulture 2013 which starts January 31 thru February 6. This is at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City under the auspices of the Philippine Horticultural Society. Less than two months later, the Philippine Orchid Society will also hold its own flower and garden show at the same venue.
Not many people may realize it but garden shows play an important role in promoting the horticulture industry. These create new opportunities for small as well as big scale entrepreneurs. They could be simple hobbyists who are growing plants as a mere sideline, or they could be entrepreneurs who grow plants as an honest-to-goodness source of livelihood.

While most major garden shows are held in Metro Manila, there are important garden shows in other parts of the country. This February, for instance, a garden show will be held to coincide with the Panagbenga Flower Festival in Baguio. This will be followed by the first garden show for the year of the Los Baños Horticultural Society sometime in April. Another major garden show will be held in August in Davao City as a highlight of the Kadayawan celebration. In September, the Philippine Orchid Society will hold its second garden show for the year in time for the blooming of the Waling-Waling. Then Los Baños will stage its second garden show for the year in October in time for the Loyalty Day celebration.

There are two parts in a garden show. One is the Landscape Exhibits where aspiring landscapers try their very best to come up with the best landscape showcase. There is usually a stiff competition because the participants want to win the coveted First Prize or even the lesser prizes. If they win the first prize, they don’t only become richer by a few thousand pesos, their career as a landscaper could also be launched.  People will ask them to do the landscaping for them and they could command a respectable price for their services.

The landscape booth is also where they showcase the best looking ornamental plants. That’s not just to satisfy the ego of the owner. It could be for hefty financial reward. The winning plant could be sold for a very high price. If the specimen plant is not for sale, the owner could make money from his propagations of smaller sizes at more affordable prices. It is very possible for him to sell a lot of those propagations because many people would also like to have their own clone of the winning ornamental plant.

Among those who would likely buy propagations of the prize-winning plant are propagators not only from Metro Manila but also from the provinces. Provincial propagators will also make money if they can be the first to multiply the same in their town or province.

In the commercial section of the garden show, you will find a lot of people selling a wide variety of ornamentals, orchids and gardening supplies. You will find very ordinary plants as well as very rare ones. Enterprising sellers display very beautiful specimen plants alongside their smaller propagations. People will readily notice the attractive specimen plant and the likelihood is that they will buy the more affordable smaller propagations.

It is possible to find in the commercial sections the plants that one has been looking for in the past many years. It is also where one can find new varieties that could be added to one’s collection, either for personal pleasure or for commercial purposes. You can also meet new friends who could be of help to you, or you could be of help to them.

The beginnings of the Los Baños garden show come to mind. That was when we worked for the UP College of Agriculture in the early 1960s. No less than Dr. Robert Chandler Jr., the director general of the International Rice Research Institute, actively participated in the garden show. He displayed his imported ornamentals like the Lady Palmer bougainvillea  and anthuriums from Hawaii for his own pleasure and not for monetary considerations.

At that time there were no commercial growers of ornamental plants except the housewives on Bangkal Street who grew a few foliage plants like the Philodendron Selloum and some other aroids.  In the beginning, there was no commercial section to speak of in the garden show. Very few brought plants for sale even if the stalls were for free. However, it did not take long for the UP professors and other employees to realize that there was good money that could be mined from ornamental plants.

In the succeeding years, there were more applicants for commercial stalls than could be accommodated even if the stalls were for rent at a few thousand pesos. The stalls had to be raffled off.

It could now be said that the flourishing ornamental plant business not only in the towns of Laguna but also in many other provinces could have benefited from the unending garden shows staged by organizers around the country.

Norma Villanueva is the chairperson of Horti 2013
to be held Jan. 31 to Feb. 6 at the Quezon Memorial
Circle in Quezon City. This is the annual garden

show of the Philippine Horticultural Society headed
by May Caballero-Dumlao.
Bong Rivera and Norma Villanueva posing
at the exhibit booth of the latter during the
Quezon City Country Fair in October 2012.

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