EFFREN Chatto, head of King Louis Flowers and Plants and the undisputed king of poinsettias.
My much-awaited order of poinsettias from the cool uplands finally arrived. I must confess, they are all gorgeous. And if my green thumb mom was around for a visit, she would lovingly kiss them all — one by one.
The red and green plant, nearly synonymous with the holiday season, makes for pretty decors such as wreaths and garlands. A potted one can instantly brighten a spot, while a mother plant can totally set the festive mood of a room. While these singular pieces notwithstanding, draw attention to themselves, can you imagine seeing carpets of poinsettias — all of 15 hectares in various sites — as far as the eye can see?
It is certainly a sight to behold, which sporadically tickles your senses and blissfully warms up your soul.
In addition, it is an ideal gift — and environmentally conscious decision — and a most welcome present for those who have everything.
The father with daughter PY Chatto on overseas holiday.
And yet, I have always wondered: Given its prevalence, at this time of year and its unquestionable beauty, why are they prominently missing in gardens and parks? Perplexed, it led me to a gentleman-farmer Efren Chatto, head of King Louis Flowers and Plants and the undisputed king of poinsettias together with his wife Nikki, the floral designer and wedding and events stylist.
I learned the growing process is rather delicate, needs meticulous care, utmost patience, burning passion and heartfelt love to achieve this dream.
RED poinsettia. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF UNSPLASH/RENEE FISHER
The crop is exposed to light —natural or otherwise — for over 16 hours each day, lasting for exactly three weeks. Then it is deprived of illumination for approximately a month and a half, shrouded by dark material, to produce this desired red drama.
A popular misconception revolves around this bloom. Most believe the red portion to be the petals — but they are the transformed leaves. The yellow and green crowns are the flowers.
Indigenous to Mexico, this plant was discovered in the wilderness and brought to the US by botanist-diplomat Joel Roberts Poinsett, America’s first minister to their neighboring nation.
POINSETTIA’S association with Christmas started with a Mexican folk tale. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF umass extentiion
It is interesting to know its association with Christmas originated from a Mexican folk tale. A girl named Pepita could not purchase a gift for the baby Jesus on his birthday. An apparition advised her to gather weeds to offer at the altar. It magically, miraculously sprouted red leaves — La Flor de Noche Buena, the Christmas Eve flower.
The poinsettia was likewise eventually accepted to be a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem.
A Christmas photo of floral designer and wedding and events stylist Nikki Chatto alongside husband Efren Chatto.
Without a doubt, upon introduction, we appreciate the poinsettia. But once we have realized the entire process necessary to come up with this masterpiece, our love is taken to a new level altogether.
Remember — now’s your chance. It’s not too late to get your very own pot for Christmas.
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