To savor sunshine and fresh air and bask in nature’s panorama of beautiful plants and flowers (or potted veggies) while sipping your morning drink is a gift we now cherish more than ever. We can’t go to our favorite garden restaurants outside the Metro Manila like Sonya’s in Silang so we must replicate their greenery in our own backyards or on windowsill!

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HAVE A LITTLE FERN Christian Espiritu in his breathtaking mini garden nooks

You can have these cherished moments in your lush and spacious tree-shaded lawn or in a “miniscule” green paradise all your own. Or in your small balcony in a condo. It becomes more precious when you are a hands-on hardinero or a bisor with an efficient green-thumbed assistant, like our featured plantito,” the incomparable Christian de Leon Espiritu, architect, fashion designer, artist, writer, editor, spouse of the late Gliceria, and father of four accomplished children.   

In his Verdana home, Christian fusses over his gardens, front and back of the house, including hisrooftop,with love and passion. His forte is also landscaping so one can imagine how he has transformed his spaces into picture-pretty hardins with little alcoves and nooks, decorated varied-colored and jars and bottles, and little statues and figurines to convey a certain mood.

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GREEN IS IN More of the plants grown in Christian’s safe space

“Even as a young boy I was already fascinated by plants! Gardening, which was part of the curriculum in my architectural studies at UST, was one of my favorite subjects. It gave me a terrific high!”Christian tells us. “Now, my day at my miniscule garden starts as soon as I finish my steaming hot coffee at 6 a.m.!”

He confesses to be a “strange” gardener, as paramount to him is the foliage of the plants, not the varieties, colors, or flowers it may bloom. “Like the exquisite embroidery or intricate beadwork my creations were known for, my plants take the place of thread, sequins, and beads! I am lucky to employ a personal assistant who likewise adores plants and has what one may call a green thumb!” beams Christian.

Does he have any favorites among his many plants? “I love and care for them equally in the same manner I love and care for my four kids equally! My garden is just the required setup by the guys at Verdana Homes!” he says.

At present, his mini gardens are all packed with his beloved plants, some of which have “migrated” to his daughter’s garden, his neighbor in the same enclave. “The rest of the lush plants are squatting in the allowable front setback next to the standard paved sidewalk! Oh and not to be forgotten is the compact roof garden on our second floor! My gardening started the moment we moved! And every day is a new adventure for the artist in me,” he says. He creates picturesque landscapes and settings with his collection of beautiful jars and pots, big in small. The style and taste are flawless, refreshing and elegant. Very Christian.

Aside from the initial landscaping done by a veteran plant seller, Christian’s classic plants in a former house influenced his Verdana Homes garden design. “I want to share this little trade secret: All my plants, save for the fiddle leaf and Palo Maria trees, are potted,” he says. “Being an architect, I can easily visualize the would-be composition of the foliage! Everything is via gut feeling and adventurous experimentations. No fixed cardinal rules! I always remind myself that I am dealing with God’s creations.”

And speaking of creations, how can we not reminisce on the golden era of Philippine high fashion and one of its brightest stars, Christian Espiritu? He was a standout in fashion, a favorite of the well-groomed First Lady, Imelda Marcos, for whose fabulous ternos, Christian made sure that his designs were not only scenestealers but also a showcase for the Philippines. He “reinvented” the classic terno, giving it a more modern, elegant touch, with exquisite handembroidery. The results set a high standard for other designers.      

Christian spent six years in New York and  decided in year 2000 to give the younger ones the space!  He went to publishing for Whike and edited AAVA News for a solid 17 years. He happily wrote a popular column in this paper too. Also, Christian had a stint designing couture shoes and dabbled in photography.

Now he is a happy plantito, a well-respected hardinero, and the envy of many as well as a mentor and inspiration.

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