‘Plant lola’ shares how gardening brought her joy upon retirement

With gardening, Leonida has something to look forward to every day!

Last year, many Filipinos turned to plants to cope with the new coronavirus. Even now, more and more people are still picking up the hobby. And why not? Plants not only beautified our homes and purify our air, but they also helped in maintaining our mental and physical well-being.

While some people started plant collecting as going with the trend, 64-year-old Leonida Carorasan-Orillo, a veteran “plant-lola” as she preferred to be called, revealed she’s been collecting and tending plants for 41 years now.

“I was in elementary when I started having an interest in my mother’s plant collection, but that time, I couldn’t afford it financially. I told myself, someday, when I’m able and have my own house, I’d build my own garden and collect plants,” Leonida.

True enough, when she got married and had her own house, Leonida started collecting plants and building her own small garden. However, back then, she couldn’t focus much as she had to juggle between work and taking care of her small kids. Her husband, who was an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in Saudi Arabia, only came home once a year for a one-month vacation.

Gardening tips

Like most newbies, Leonida also experienced trial and error in gardening until she learned the proper way to do it. 

“You have to be patient. Water the plants every day. Sometimes, I use rice water. I don’t use artificial fertilizers. I just use farm soil or carabao manure,” says Leonida.

Studies show that animal manure has been used for centuries as a fertilizer and a soil amendment for farming. Not only is it cheaper than artificial fertilizers, but it is also more effective as it slowly releases nutrients into the soil.

“Don’t overwater the plants. Cultivate and trim them every now and then. Sometimes, I even whisper to my plants. Every plant owner knows this,” Leonida adds.

Studies show that animal manure has been used for centuries as a fertilizer and a soil amendment for farming. Not only is it cheaper than artificial fertilizers, but it is also more effective as it slowly releases nutrients into the soil.

“Don’t overwater the plants. Cultivate and trim them every now and then. Sometimes, I even whisper to my plants. Every plant owner knows this,” Leonida adds.

Her source of happiness

Although she’d been a certified plant-lola for years now, Leonida admitted that she was only able to give her full attention to her plants when she retired from her job of 39 years.

As a matter of fact, it’s more fun nowadays because she has more options for plants and pots, especially when the plant-selling business boomed. Her favorites include Fortune plants, Five fingers, and flower-bearing plants like roses and gumamelas (hibiscus).

“Looking after my plants beats my boredom. It reduced my stress and anxiety during this lockdown and eased my sadness after losing my husband a few months ago,” says Leonida.

“There’s always something I look forward to every day. It also keeps me physically active as I treat this as a form of exercise,” she adds.

This article was first published at My Pope Philippines on April 20, 2021. Credits to Katsu Modomo for the featured image.

Published by Mylene Orillo

Mylene Orillo is a contributing writer at My Pope Philippines. Prior to that, she contributed to the Health & Lifestyle magazine.  She's a former correspondent at The Manila Times; former editor-in-chief of TravelPlus magazine; and former assistant editor of Health & Lifestyle, Zen Health, and DiabetEASE magazines by FAME Publishing, Inc., a company owned by cardiologist Dr. Rafael Castillo who has given her the much-needed break and opportunity in the health industry and medical field.  Her previous job as a Media Consultant at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Writer-Researcher at the Headquarters Philippine Army ignited her passions for charity, volunteering, selfless service, and love of country. As a young girl, she loved reading her mom's collection of Mills & Boons pocketbooks, which started her passion to write romance stories.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Sto. Tomas in España, Manila. She is now working towards earning her master's degree hopefully this year. She loves traveling, long-distance running, reading romance and non-fiction books, watching Korean Drama series, feel-good rom coms, military movies, and documentaries during her spare time. Someday, she wants to meet Prince William and Pope Francis, settle down with the love of her life and have a family and kids of her own; and become a bestselling romance author.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: