I fell asleep last night intending to hit the Dimasalang Flower market in the wee hours of the morning for some blooms for our Christmas Eve and Day dinners. But age and exhaustion must be catching up with me, as I slept nearly 10 hours straight and woke up at 7am instead… possibly just too late to find anything at the market. I figured the flowers would definitely have been picked over by now and with everything shut for a rest day tomorrow, so I drove to Sampaloc with low expectations. At least there wasn’t any traffic on the road at all, and it took just 15 minutes to get to the market… A quick walk up and down the main spine revealed some pretty good choices still, a pleasant surprise, but prices were probably 50-100% higher than usual. I managed to bargain down 20 dozen roses for PHP1,000 ($23), and purchased a few classic potted phalaenopsis orchids, some really unusual native fauna (another post), some holiday evergreens, then wandered back towards the car. One final diversion into a large, warehouse-like area and as if finding the golden egg in an easter egg hunt, I spotted these amazing deep purple hydrangeas under a pile of light blue blooms…
The vendor at the stall was fast asleep under a blanket, and after waking her and dreading the price she was going to ask for these stunning blooms, she said “PHP100 per stem”, which I bargained down to PHP80 and I purchased all ten blooms. I was particularly excited about this find as these are locally grown milflores/hydrangeas, yet they have the size of the largest blooms I have seen in Western flower markets. These all came from one huge bush up North in the Mt. Province apparently, and they were shockingly beautiful. At PHP800 for the enormous bunch, I was pleased as punch. A serendipitous find, a floral Christmas gift from the flower gods… :) Order these at a snazzy Makati florist on the 24th of December, flown in from Holland, and this will set you back as much as a minor piece of gold jewelry… Back at home, I placed the hydrangeas in a semi-antique (it probably is more than 100 years old, but just…) chinese vase with a design that incorporates some of the same shade of purple. The simple but stunning arrangement now sits on a table in the center of our living room. And we all can’t stop staring at it. It befits the term magnificent. At nearly 3 feet tall, it nearly dominates the room, despite the Christmas tree nearby. :)
Phalaenopsis orchids, several varieties native to the Philippine islands (my mom’s favorite along with Vandas and Cattleyas), are almost always found in the Marketman home during the holidays. They are a bit pricey, at PHP700 a pot this season (USD16), but if properly cared for, will last up to 4 weeks indoors, then we “revive” them and raise them outdoors until they bloom again many months later. For some reason only two of our phalaenopsis plants, both attached healthily to trees have bloomed this December, while over a dozen other ones seem to be waiting for the cooler months of January or February to send out blooms… In good years, there are nearly a dozen enormous stems of phalaenopsis in the garden around this time of year, and they are simply beautiful.
Another house favorite are potted amaryllis bulbs. These are one of Mrs. MM’s personal favorites, so we try to have several pots in various stages of growth in the house during December. I buy these at the Manila Seedling Bank in QC early in December, and they typically bloom from 1 day to 10 days after I purchase them. They come in red, pink, white, etc. They are extremely exuberant–with large multiple blooms towering above their pots.
These are the last blooms for the group… the bulbs will be retired and planted in the ground, but coaxing further blooms from them will be a chore in our hot Manila weather. Besides, I am not sure if these ones in particular are freshly imported from Holland, and as such, they are used to a winter in hibernation.
Also classic, almost trite, during the holidays are potted poinsettias. This year, we got two enormous white poinsettia trees, some 3.5 feet tall. They were in baskets in the house for some 2-3 weeks, and are ending their stint flanking the front door to welcome guests this evening and on Christmas day…
Three “hanging pots” (though we didn’t hang them) of what appeared to be salmon colored poinsettias were the perfect backdrop for this year’s gingerbread houses. My suki said they were meant to be peppermint or “halo red and white” but they seemed more salmon than pink. At any rate, they are stunning, and have lasted nearly three weeks and still look fresh and robust.
Red poinsettias are also aplenty in the home, and these just scream Christmas celebrations with a capital “C”…
Finally, for holiday meals, we have low tight arrangements of mixed pink and red roses, each little arrangement containing at least 50 blooms each. These will last 3-4 days only. These are rather extravagant little arrangements (though purchases at Dimasalang flower market means they will cost a rather reasonable PHP250 per arrangement) but they do indicate that guests are sitting down to a particularly special meal. Whatever your budget or floral skills, I am almost certain you can put something nice and reasonably priced on your holiday table if you just gave it a little thought and advance planning… :)