Tips and Guides

A Fantasy Garden in Tagaytay

See how a horticulturist transforms fertile land into a magical world

Original Article: Tisha Alvarez Photography: Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions Styling: Gwyn GS Guanzon

Who hasn’t marveled at the plants and flowers in Tagaytay? The area’s cool weather and rich volcanic soil are the perfect ingredients for healthy and beautiful greenery. So it is no surprise that horticulturist Jan Imperio and his wife Marikit would relocate to this town that is more popular as a weekend escape.

The sprawling 3,000sqm plot of land was acquired in 1997, and is shared by Marikit’s other siblings. Originally, Jan wanted to sell plants here, but his work back then kept him mostly in Manila so he just focused on designing this garden. He relates that it was made primarily for his children, because he wanted them to have memories of playing and growing up in such a beautiful place.

Jan did not stick to formal landscaping and instead created a magical world filled with freeform plantings and whimsical garden décor. It begins with the family’s colorful house, with a seedling greenhouse behind it. Beyond this, the garden veers into different tableaux, including arched pathways, gazebos, and even an outdoor bathroom. You’ll be surprised that there are hardly any exotic plants here, mostly greenery that you can easily get at any landscaping store. “I use local plants but in a nice way, so hindi mukhang common,” Jan says.

An exuberant spray of foxtail ferns welcomes visitors into the garden.

The Duranta is a common shrub, but Jan loves to use it. Here, he surrounds a giant blue talyasi (vat) with the purplish plant.

Jan doesn’t scrimp on ornaments, and this garden brims with such whimsical décor, like this “Welcome” sign.

There’s a washroom in the middle of the garden! This spot is protected by walls, but is filled with plants.

“See, hear, speak no evil” monkeys add humor to a bed of golden miagos plants.

This unique rotating “fountain” is a metal ornament Jan got from HMR which he attached to a sprinkler.

A large gazebo stands in the middle of a ring of arched vines. In the foreground is a large plant box of rosemary herbs.

A path lined with pots of rosemary leads to the main house.

This weathered blue bench shaded by vines provides respite in the sprawling garden.

Arched vines line the length of one garden path. These arches can be separated in the middle if Jan needs to transport these pots to another area.

Jan and Marikit’s house is painted in a bright watermelon color to match their colorful garden.

An outdoor brick grill is not even spared from Jan’s garden ornaments.

What’s up, croc? These amusing crocodile ornaments are actually made of three different stone parts embedded in the grass.

At the end of the garden, Jan creates a trellis filed with gracefully falling thunbergia flowers. The sampaguita glass panels are from Marikit’s sibling’s old home.

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