Makiling Botanic Gardens
On my recent trip to the Philippines, my brother asked me what I would like to do the most - visit a garden, of course, the Makiling Botanic Gardens, at the foot of Mt. Makiling, inside the campus of The University of the Philippines in the town of Los Baños, about an hour south of where he lives. He said he'll take me there.
It's good to note that my businessman brother is a good sport. Years ago, I was volunteering at Fort Funston in San Francisco. He joined me in collecting native seeds in the rains, sloshing in his expensive tennis shoes. I had no doubt he would tolerate this, as well.
The drive was very pleasant. I saw a lot of tropical plants we would not see here on the roadside and some we could only find indoors. As we got closer and started climbing the mountain, I noticed some "fog" at the top of the mountain. It must be cold up there - wrong. It was rain clouds; we found out about 10 minutes later when we got there. But it didn't detract us from hiking up and down the trails.
I don't remember what I was expecting but it sure was not like any botanical gardens I've visited. It was almost deserted, possibly because of the rain and the fact that it was the middle of the week. Like any botanical garden, the plants were nicely and clearly labeled with very good information, but it was certainly different. It was a tropical forest - with towering trees, bamboos, palms; humongous leaves of plants we typically find in homes and offices in this country and a lot of endemic plants only found in the area.
I very much enjoyed learning about new plants and seeing familiar plants in their native habitat. It was very much worth enduring the heat and humidity of the tropics. It was a gardener's paradise.