Baguio flower fest’s vertical gardens draw business interest

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Colorful ornamental flowers enhance the design of vertical gardens in this year’s Flower Festival Market Encounter.

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—Vertical gardens mounted on simulated building walls have been part of the landscape of Burnham Park, the second year this flower carpet technique has been promoted by organizers of the Baguio Flower Festival.

But local landscape artists say real estate developers have noticed the festival’s latest advocacy and some building owners have started to incorporate vertical gardens in their projects.

Lawyer Damaso Bangaoet, Baguio Flower Festival founder, pushed for vertical garden landscapes in the annual Flower Festival Market Encounter (renamed Blooming Odyssey), hoping to popularize a green building philosophy in Baguio and in areas from where the festival’s annual visitors come.

Cordelia Lacsamana, city environment officer, says the summer capital promotes green architecture and has been encouraging buildings to develop open air rooftop gardens to help reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

She says vertical gardens are innovations of the traditional landscape garden, which are mounted on interior building walls.

Lacsaman says vertical gardens can also be installed on the outdoor wall space available in high-rise buildings.

John Kimo and his bonsai worth P70,000

Agriculturists and scientists believe this technique can be harnessed in the future so vertical gardens can be mounted on the walls of buildings, to augment the food supply of big cities, she adds.

Vertical farming is still a theory, but vertical gardens are feasible options for building owners, who are willing to spend up to P2 million to grow seedlings of flowering plants or small fruit-bearing trees that thrive on rooftops and on building walls, according to Alexander Bangsoy, president of real estate developer, Goshen Land Capital Inc.

Bangsoy says developers are taking advantage of the skills available in Baguio.

Twelve members of the Panagbenga Landscapers Association take traditional and vertical landscaping assignments in Guam, Canada and Ireland, says Jonalyn Viloria, the association secretary.

“We have members, who earned as much as P5 million in net revenues last year … and their only training came from their work as gardeners and from landscape competitions like Panagbenga,” she says.

Viloria adds she learned about vertical landscaping from an American friend in 2007, but was only able to apply its principles when Bangaoet introduced it for the competition.

Local tourists enjoy the Flower Festival

The very first vertical landscape competition was won by John Kimo, 34, the group’s president. Kimo is a Kalanguya from Tinoc, Ifugao, who has an agriculture degree and who earned his stripes producing landscape gardens for the Baguio Country Club.

Unlike other countries, the Philippines is rich with natural landscaping resources, such as sea stones in the Ilocos coastline, which make homegrown gardens unique, he says.

He says landscapers charge P100,000 for a 10-square meter garden, but the price can sometimes shoot up to P1 million.—Reports from EV Espiritu and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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