Roses for Valentineâ€™s Day are just too trite. Blah. Boring. Predictable. Uninspired. Unless you grow them yourself and cut them just minutes before giving them to your beloved. The commercial machinations that go into planning billions of rose blooms for harvest specifically in the next 3-4 days, packing and shipping from points as far as Ecuador, Israel, California, Benguet or Davao to every corner of the globe with a gullible guy (probably 85+% of buyers for Valentineâ€™s) are far more impressive than the logistics for the Gulf Warâ€¦ I rarely get Mrs. Marketman roses for Valentineâ€™s, but she gets them at other times of the year; and so does The Kid. So I am always on the lookout for something a bit different at this time of the year. A spectacular orchid, plant or other bloomsâ€¦and last weekend I felt like I hit the jackpot and I hadnâ€™t even purchased a ticket! Strolling around the Salcedo market in Makati, I noticed a tin pail filled with the most stunning vines and white flowers as they were being unloaded from the truck and placed at a garden stall. I immediately asked the folks who were still madly setting up shop what they were and how much they costâ€¦
Turns out they were lush, lush vines of Cadena de Amor (Chain of Love) in prolific bloom. I know, I know, some of you are sniggering at the moment. What? The stuff they are trying to grow on all those EDSA overpass pillars and MRT chain-link fences? The vine that Imelda thought would cover all the squalor in squatter areas? The weed like â€œsagbutâ€ as my amused crew refer to it, that is way too plentiful in the provinces? YES, I was utterly stunned by the simple beauty of the vines and their blooms. And how can you beat that name??? Despite being skeptical that they would last for more than a few hours in water, I asked how much they were. The owners laughed and said they hadnâ€™t planned on selling them, as though I was just the lunatic they had hoped for who would buy that which wasnâ€™t presumed to be for sale. So they hastily calculated what outrageous price they could charge me with a semi-straight face and said PHP200 for the whole bunchâ€¦ â€œDEAL, I said,â€ and took everything before anyone else got the same idea. Once that objective was achieved, I decided to look around the smell the Cadena de Amors, so to speak, and realized I was in a terrific little stallâ€¦
â€œLe Jardin De Villeâ€ their little notepaper with the proprietresses name and number read. The Garden in Town or the Village. Under two classic market umbrellas in stunning orange, was a beautiful selection of topiaries, herbs, cut flowers, bromeliads, etc. that simply screamed â€œStyleâ€ with a capital â€œS.â€ Clearly, someone behind this stall had an â€œeye,â€ and a very good one at that. Many of the plants and flowers are commonly available, but the selection, the way they were pulled together, the feel of the stall was just so much better than their neighbors. So many local florists have really awful looking shops but this stall immediately brought me back to florists in Europe where the selection was unusual and the displays totally invitingâ€¦ Besides the Cadena de Amor, I purchased some uniquely magenta-ish? vandas at PHP30 a stem and Pink Congea shrubbery at PHP200 a bunch. Back home, I placed everything in separate glass vases and added a mature green hydrangea bloom that I happened to have in the garden and the resulting arrangement was spectacular. Early Valentineâ€™s bouquet for the Mrs. and The Kid!
So if you are looking for something unusual for Valentineâ€™s I STRONGLY recommend Le Jardin de Ville and since I suspect there will be a mad rush this Saturday to get their best stuff, you may want to call ahead and ask them to set aside something terrific for you. Their prices are not cheap, but they are far less expensive than the chi-chi florists who will easily cost you several thousand for something remotely interesting. Call Lia Valera at 0917-527-4794. And tell them Marketman sent you; I was amused because they gave me a hard time when I tried to buy the Cadena de Amor and even the suggestion that I wanted to PAY for all the flowers AND feature them on a market website was met with this quizzical â€œwhat is this nutcase of a man talking aboutâ€ lookâ€¦