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.

a typical garden in camp phillips

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.

foliage remains fashionable

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.

The pine trees will outlast and outlive them all.


7 responses »

  1. jezza says:

    The pine trees will outlast and outlive them all. \m/

  2. Marilou says:

    I enjoyed reading this article. Thanks for sharing the photos – it gave me ideas on how to arrange my plants in my garden. This is very helpful! The plants illustrated in my gardening books are kind of alien to me 😀 as they are based in the UK and USA – but with your photos, I recognise most of the plants and I know they’ll grow here. Being a “newbie in gardening”, I’m still learning about plants so all my plants are in pots. The beauty of potted plants is that I can re-arrange or move them wherever and whenever I like without uprooting them.
    Yes I remember those African daisies and the pine trees in Camp Phillips very well. My Mom was a substitute teacher in Camps 9 and 12 in the 60s.

    • Wow, really? Yes, those were the days when daisies ruled over 🙂 You are right, potted plants have lots of advantages, and it is easier to protect them from insect attacks as well. Most of the plants here are native species. They thrive well here because of the mountain climate and the fertile soil. Do you practice organic gardening?

  3. Marilou says:

    Yes, I practice organic gardening. I made my own compost when I was still living in the UK. Then coming back to live in Talakag, I continued doing it and I’ve even convinced my family and some friends to do the same.

  4. ronie says:

    yes, those were the days then. we loved flowers! i remember the beautification contest of camp phillips… it was so fun!

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