My earliest memories of the mountain camp were rows of African daisies in all colors and variations lining up in the front yards. That was in the 70s, when daisies were the fad.
Eventually, those colorful petals dropped dead to give way to other flower trends. The 80s were all about new arrivals – geranium, dahlias, anthuriums, American roses, orchids, Rubias, Baby’s Breath, Dona Aurora, Million Flowers, and the incomparable African violets – a misnomer since at home we had whites, pinks, blues, oranges and no violet African violets. There was an annual contest and winners were the superstars – people flock to their houses to get ideas, beg for seedlings, cuttings, and seeds, or just take photos.
But came the 90s, and flowering ornamentals became passe. Roses were unceremoniously uprooted and dumped in the compost pile. They became fertilizers to what was garden rage that time: foliage – ferns, palms, shrubs, and everything green. Camp Phillips looked like a Moroccan oasis; there were palms everywhere. And this trend brought the worst specie ever planted in Camp Phllips – the golden lantana.
It was also in the early 90s that bromeliads reigned over the camp. Houses worth their house number had at least ten varieties of this pineapple-family ornamental. However, when dengue fever reared its ugly head, bromeliads, because they contain stagnant water, gained notoriety as breeding grounds of mosquitoes. Thousands of pots were thrown to the backyard pit.
(Note that in the late 70s, creep-vine Portulacas carpeted the yards in Camp JMC until one morning, the camp woke up to a story about a pineapple harvester who saw her portulacas turned black at midnight. The next morning, her son died. By 9am, all portulacas were exorcised and burned. Smoke covered the whole camp that fateful day.
Today, camp landscaping has found a more stable ground. Homeowners have shied away from trends and designed gardens based on their personal tastes and availability. Mothers became career women so gone are those times when early morning meant mothers working in their gardens.
But through it all, somethings remain solid and strong – the trees. Unperturbed by the trends – eucalyptus, cypress, mahogany, firs and pine stand tall. Especially the pine trees – which look very confident. Flowers and foliage come and go. Camp residents move on after retirement only to be replaced by a younger set of employees.