San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A Passion for Plants: Sharing the Delights of Gardens for Small Spaces

BORN and raised in Israel among thefragrant herbs and bright flowers of hernative country, it seems appropriate thatDeganit Ganon’s name translates as“cornflower.” Her horticulturist fatherwas a rose specialist in an agriculturalcooperative, or moshav, famed for itsflower exports, so Ganon grew up absorbingknowledge like her beloved plantsdraw up nutrients from the earth.Who is she? Ganon is general managerof Floramarket in Escazú, and for thepast eight years has been supplying thearea with a vivid and aromatic array ofannuals, hardy perennial garden plantsand unusual herbs.THE vivero (garden center) was bornof compassion. Ganon’s husband specializesin the production and export ofunrooted cuttings of more than 400 gardenvarieties. Cuttings are taken from top quality“mother plants,” prepared andshipped off to the United States.However, the “moms” need replacing regularly.Reluctant to discard them, Ganondecided to open the center to offer theseexcellent “retirees” to the public.“I personally love the floweringperennials,” she muses, looking out over abewildering array of species from her tinyonsite office window. “But my babies arethe herbs and medicinal plants.”These have become a garden fashionitem as worldwide research is provingtheir efficacy and clients are demandingherbs and medicinal plants for both theirusefulness and their beauty. With a philosophythat “ahealthy lifestyle stopsyou running to thedoctor,” Ganon promotesher healingplants with zeal.“I love the aestheticsof herbs,” shesays. “In Israel, wecook and use herbs somuch: sage, rosemary,lavender all growwild. My herbs hereremind me of home.”Walking throughthe tidy raised tablesfilled with varieties ofthyme, dill, oregano,basil, mint and manyless common varieties, her concern andpassion for these plants are obvious.PREFERRING to share her “babies”with a wide clientele rather than making afat profit, this caring gardener sees hernursery as a labor of love.“You can imagine what I have to payto be here!” she smiles, referring to herritzy location almost opposite the U.S.ambassador’s residence, on the old roadto Santa Ana. But her plants sell at muchthe same price as other, less strategicallyplaced garden centers.Ganon spends most of her time at thegarden center, advising clients and nurturingnew plants. She has focused on providingtwo specialized services: small gardenplanning and installation, and gardeningcourses and seminars.“My passion is for small gardens,where you combine works of art andcrafts with the plants,” she explains. “Ilove to have lots of garden in a smallspace.”Customers can call on Ganon toadvise them how to maximize their yardspace. She designs easy-maintenance butlush gardens filled with herbs, perennials,orchids and climbing vines to fill everyavailable surface. Floramarket will undertakethe planning and installation, with afollow-up visit in which plants that don’tsurvive the transplanting are replaced freeof charge, with optional maintenance serviceif required.GANON says she isn’t interested inlarge commercial landscaping projects formalls and hotels.“My nursery ismy business; I mustrecognize my limitsand meet my expectationsprofessionally,”she explains.The enterprisingnursery also offerscourses and seminarson various aspects ofgardening and plantcare. One of the firstwas given by well-knownmedicinal herbexpert, agronomistand author, HernánRodríguez, who demonstratedhow to prepareginger cordialand rosemary shampoo, with explanationsof many other herbal remedies.Other talks include orchid care andpropagation, basic treatment, potting andpruning of plants, pest control and evencooking with herbs. Although most of thenursery’s customers are from the expatriatecommunity, the courses are betterattended by Costa Ricans, according toGanon.“They have less access to good gardeningbooks in Spanish,” she says.Ganon plans to structure future talksin both English and Spanish, dependingon demand. Costs are kept at a very reasonable$5-6 per person to cover thematerials.WHETHER you are starting yourgarden from scratch or have only a tinybalcony for a couple of pots, the lady withthe cornflower name will expertly introduceyou to her family of flowers, herbsand shrubs, and help you choose some fittingcompanions for your home.Vivero Floramarket is in Escazú, onthe old road to Santa Ana, 100 meters eastof the Paco commercial center. For informationon upcoming courses and seminars,call 288-3711.

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