Belvyna Global is featuring Zephyr Gardens and Landscape again. This horticultural garden is based in Asaba, Delta State, Nigeria. The Prime mover is Mrs. Patricia Okafor a retired secondary school Principal who is passionate about growing different flowers to beautify homes and the environment.
The flowers from her gardens have beautified the event centers and halls where many conferences, seminars and receptions of various events such as weddings, naming ceremonies and birthday parties are held in Asaba, Delta state, Nigeria. She decorates the altar of her Church with fresh flowers every Saturday in readiness for the Sunday services. she also makes wreaths for funeral ceremonies.
We caught up with the Prime mover Mrs. Patricia Okafor on Wednesday, 17th April, 2019 and we had an illuminating chat about her garden.
Belvyna Global: It is nice to see you again and we would like to know the impact of the recent heat wave on the horticultural business.
Patricia Okafor: Hmmm, the heat wave just landed on us suddenly. We know the dry season in Nigeria is usually from February to April. But the hot weather experienced from March and up till now April adversely affected many flowering plants. In fact, this year’s dry season and hot weather has been very harsh and the plants and flowers are worse for it. Many droop and sag due to intense heat from the sun.
Belvyna Global: How do you overcome this problem?
Patricia Okafor: I don’t have water problem in my gardens because I have a borehole and I am assured of steady water supply. However, the problem faced is that of electricity to pump the water from the borehole into the overhead tanks. Interestingly (laughs) as soon as we have electricity supply from PHCN/NEPA, I quickly rush to switch on the pumping machine to fill the overhead tanks.
My children find this amusing, and per adventure I am not at home, they know that as soon as there is electricity, they must switch on the pumping machine. At the same time, there is a generator we use in the gardens to pump water. We resort to the generator when there is low current. But this is now becoming few and far between. I have to do all this in the gardens as that’s what it takes if you want your flowers to survive. However, the electricity supply has improved a bit.
Belvyna Global: Which flowers perform best in your gardens?
Patricia Okafor: the flower that performs best in our garden is the Anthurium. We grow them under the shade in order to shield them from excessive heat. This particular flower is easy to grow as it flowers all year round. The other names for this flower are the Flamingo Lily or Lace leaf. Many of our clients love it if this flower is included in the bouquets or natural flower decoration because the Anthurium flower signifies hospitality and abundance. Some people believe it is the flower of love because it is heart shaped.
Another flower that does well is the Heliconia
Belvyna Global: We know you have done a few landscapes for some of your clients. How are you able to cope with the maintenance of these landscape projects?
Patricia Okafor: Landscape maintenance is very challenging during the dry season. Most of the grasses and flowers dry up. What I encourage my clients to do is to have a borehole with two (2) overhead tanks located in a corner of the field. There must be a very long hose which our gardeners use to water the gardens twice daily.
Belvyna Global: Are you looking forward to the rainy season come May, June & July?
Patricia Okafor: Yes I am looking forward to it. But I do not wish for heavy rains that will flood and wash away your plants. Flowers flourish best under natural rainfall.
Belvyna Global: We would like to know if you are able to meet the demands of your customers.
Patricia Okafor: Well, we make bridal bouquets and also decorate the altar of some churches. The company makes wreaths for funerals. When we have a lot of orders, we procure fresh flowers from the importers in Lagos. We maintain the freshness by ensuring that once the wreaths are made we keep them cool and slightly hydrated until the day of the event. We usually allow a time frame of 24-48 hours before the event.
Bridal bouquets are made the day before the wedding or in the early morning of the wedding day. After discussing with the bride, I usually make two different bouquets for her. She will choose one and I still take the second bouquet to the wedding.
Belvyna Global: Is the importation of fresh flowers affecting your garden and horticulture business?
Patricia Okafor: As at today, flower importation is not affecting our business. In fact it is complementing it because we are unable to produce all species of flowers in Nigeria.
Since bridal bouquets are a delight for me, I usually source for imported Roses and Carnations as I don’t have these two flowers in my garden.
Belvyna Global: How can your company be contacted?
Patricia Okafor: Zephyr Gardens and Landscape can be reached on +234 802 3080 921 and +234 805 9301549