WHEN Covid-19 hit the country and lockdowns were put in place, the horticultural industry came into the spotlight. Many people of all ages and genders became interested in growing and selling plants and building gardens. Many of these breeders just got into the hobby during the pandemic. And many who got into horticulture were beginners. Some would say that this was the result of domestic quarantines that eventually resulted in people having nothing to do other than till the soil. But one person who has been in the industry for years has recognized the growth potential of their company.
Gracelyn D. Embate, a loving mother, loving friend, and passionate plant seller, has been in the horticultural industry for more than a decade. She began growing her ornamental garden on vacant lot near her home in Barangay Bolinawan, Carcar, south of Cebu, and opened her business in 2005 with a meager capital of 5,000 pesos at the height of the Euphorbia madness. It is known for its bougainvilleas, which have interesting stem shapes, leaf variations and shapes and strikingly colorful bracts. Their market includes collectors, parks, and resorts.
Grace, as she is affectionately known by her customers and friends, offers other types of plants in addition to bougies, including aglaonemas, philodendrons, anthuriums and other genera.
Although Grace was devastated by a typhoon that damaged her plants in 2011, after a period of “healing” in 2017, Grace pursued her interest in gardening in order to continue to share “the joy of collecting and growing plants” with others. In 2018, Grace opened her own one-stop shop for plant lovers in a strategic location in Carcar City, Cebu, selling a wide variety of plants, pots and planters. In 2020, when Covid-19 hit the country and the horticultural industry began to flourish, she saw what could be her greatest asset. She renamed her company, Gracelyn’s Garden, the Garden Pillar of the South and brought premium plants to the local market at more affordable prices for old and budding hobbyists. It expanded its range to include Ecuadorian arum plants, trailing plants, woody plants and colorful hybrids.
Gracelyn’s Garden is a popular name not only on the local scene, but also with buyers from other parts of the Visayas and Mindanao. Her customers keep track of their Facebook live sales on Fridays and Sundays for their rare plants, crazy discounts and freebies. Her commitment to providing high quality but affordable plants coupled with good customer relationships has earned her great following, trust and friendship among her customers. True to her name, Grace is a blessing to many. While she is a source of joy for her customers, private individuals and local groups benefit from her charitable commitment, the expansion of her garden.
“Ate Gracelyn is a serious saleswoman. She has very exotic and high quality plants at low prices. She also makes sure that all the plants she sells are stable,” wrote Michael Lorenz Mayol, one of her regular customers, on Gracelyn’s Gardens Facebook Page.
“I am a plant collector and a public school teacher. I got plants from Ate Grace and I saw her generosity beyond the plants she shared. She helped me provide school supplies for the young learners,” said Niel Fujil Eguna .