In the patios and corridors of their houses, the inhabitants of Santa Elena apply all their ancestral knowledge about plants and flowers, which, in turn, become like members of the family.
Perhaps one beautiful value that marks the people of Antioquia is their love for flowering gardens. No matter how humble a farmhouse may be, it will always be embellished with planters full of begonias and geraniums. Nothing makes a homemaker more proud than to show off her garden plants, or the azaleas in her patio.
Begonias, carnations, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, roses, maiden pinks, and many more share a big part of daily life with the Santa Elena inhabitants.
As early as 1891, a newspaper published the follo-wing advertisement, showing an early interest in plant and flower growing:
The growing interest the people of Medellín ha-ve shown in flowers and decorative plants has made it necessary to replace our outdated planting methods with new elements where science and art combine to beautify our gardens and to produce beautiful and varied flowers. M. Bunel, knowledgeable French floriculturist is currently in the city sharing his art, and offering his varied selection of seeds and living plants along with his services to people of good taste and well-lined pocketbooks.” (El Espectador, Number 110. April 30, 1891).
Traditions, learned at home from parents and grandparents, allow the floriculturists to strengthen their knowledge in their flower plantations. Pictured, Jaime Atehortúa Londoño, from Annexed Village of El Porvenir.
In his 1929-book Papeles nuevos y viejos (New and old papers), Mr. Eduardo Zuleta tells us the names of all those public leaders who took it upon themselves to import new species of trees and flowers. Pastor Restrepo brought the azalea biflora, Juan Lalinde the plain azalea; Julio Isaza Ochoa the red bougainvillea. And from among all those city leaders, we must also mention Mr. Ricardo Olano, who, with love and dedication, beautified the city with tabebuia, cananga, and all kinds of ornamental trees. Another leader in this area was Jorge Molina who tirelessly worked for almost twenty years planting trees, and held the honorary position of “Green Mayor” of Medellín.
In greenhouses or under open skies, on a small or large scale, floriculture makes up a huge part of the daily life of the District of Santa Elena.
Farmers in the cool-weather highlands surrounding our city, especially in the Santa Elena and San Cristóbal Districts, have always kept gardens whose flowers have traditionally been brought to Medellín to be sold in public squares and market places.
Bound for world markets, the floriculture industry is a prosperous one, generating hundreds of jobs, and important earnings for the region.
At present, flower farming is a prosperous industry in Antioquia. The area just east of Medellín is one of the most important flower production centers in the Province. Its flower production includes carnations, powder puffs, roses, and gerberas. In the Province, more than 14,000 people work directly with the cultivation of flowers, and another 5,000 make their living providing services to the industry. The industry generated more than 180 million dollars in earnings in 2006.
Juan Luis Mejía Arango