Friday, May 21, 2010

Wanted: Lush Garden

It's been unbearably hot this summer and the plants in my garden are complaining and withering away! In Laguna though, plants seem to thrive all year round.  Ponce Veridiano's hideaway in Laguna is the ultimate in LUSH. His Laguna house has a beautiful garden--or actually it would be more appropriate to say that his beautiful garden has a house in it! 

The sitting area of the 2-bedroom villa

At the we visited, he was in the middle of building the pool for the 2-bedroom villa he is going to rent by-the-day to vacationers. This is his first attempt at interior design and it was coming along really nice and tasteful--but what still really stood out was his landscape design. This guy is naturally talented!

Healthy and happy calatheas

Ponce is a self-taught landscape artist from Laguna. He is an electrical engineer by training and in another life, he worked for Meralco in a very junior post. It was during this time that he the Meralco Garden Club (!)  at the prodding of one of his office mates.  He won the second garden show he joined and got the attention of  a Chinese lady to asked him to create a pocket garden inside her condo. From there her friends saw it, and also hired him.

View from the master bedroom of the main house

Eventually he found himself rubbing elbows with chi-chi personalities in Manila, and he got his first "commercial" job when Tony Floirendo (the father, not Tony-boy) asked him to landscape the family-owned Pearl Farm Resort on Samal Island. He had quite a long stint there because the family took to him and treated him like family.  Not only did he design the gardens of the different members of the family there, he also styled parties and weddings. He is that creative.

the open living room of his house

Through working with the Floirendos, Ponce got to meet other prominent families. I think it was about this time that the Ayalas either heard about him or saw his work. He was then tasked to do the gardens of Greenbelt in Makati.

View from the den--don't step out though--those are all waterlilies covering a pond.

His style was strikingly different from whatever landscapers did in the past. He plays with a monochromatic palette of green and hardly uses any flowering plants. relying on the shapes of the leaves and massing for his design statement. The gardens he creates are ultimately simple but extraordinary, low-key but elegant.

At the entrance of Kawayan Cove

After Greenbelt, he did the landscaping of Kawayan Cove, an exclusive seaside community in Nasugbu, Batangas. His style fit the development perfectly since Kawayan is elegant in its simplicity. His restrained use of plants and colors contributes to the harmony of the place--nothing jarring to the senses here. In fact, as soon as you pass through the entrance, you are overtaken by a sense of calm.  Definitely very tasteful.

Back to his house in Laguna...aside from the main house and the 2-bedroom villa, he has this bahay kubo structure across the street, for hanging out. 

From here you can listen to the raging river below. Ponce said he used to swim in it as a child.

I like the contrast of the crystal chandelier in a structure that's in the middle of the boonies.

He continues to be in demand for residential projects in Forbes, Dasmarinas and Urdaneta Villages in Makati. Inspite of his talent, and being highly sought-after by "people-in-the-know",  he remains down-to-earth and humble. He doesn't even want his picture taken or published.

From the garden looking into the main house (this is still Ponce's house, not mine!)

Every now and then, I call Jess, his top landscaper, to take peek at my small Ponce-designed garden (good thing Ponce still has ongoing projects nearby so Jess can easily swing by). He said my gardener is basically just cleaning and tidying the garden instead of caring for the plants. Jess tried to teach him twice, how to prune certain plants, but it seems that the gardener didn't want to learn new things.

My (once) lush garden when it was newly planted. Grass was not put in yet.

I think I'll have to put in new plants after the summer and right before the rainy season (first they steam in the humid heat of the summer, hopefully they don't drown next). By that time, I hope I have a better gardener! I'm learning so many things about these plants that soon I will be able to do my garden by myself.


Unknown said...

does ponce take in guests? how do i go about making a reservation? thanks...

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