The Northern Blossom Flower Farm was largely unknown for some time but has been supplying its gorgeous flowers to Metro Manila and even to as far away as Mindanao. A little over three years ago, however, a local TV network featured the 3-hectare farm and mainly because of social media, the secret was soon out.
Hordes of visitors began descending on the place and soon the owners, Mrs. Melany Ganayan and her husband, opened the farm to tourists, eventually erecting two building units to house guests.
Northern Blossom had been on our radar for a while and finally last week we made the drive up the highland town of Atok in Benguet province. Wanting to get good views of the place during sunrise we signed up for an overnight stay.
After checking in at our lodging for the night we made our way into the farm entrance, wound our way through a few greenhouses and emerged into the open. The views are stunning to say the least: rows and rows of colorful flora, many of them of a variety rarely seen in the country, with the cloud-covered Cordillera Central mountain range forming a striking background.
It seems that one can point the camera in any direction and still get gorgeous shots. But the views with the clouds and mountains in the background are the best of all. From several vantage points one can even get a good view of Mounts Pulag and Timbak in the distance.
Like the vegetable farms that Atok was famous for before Northern Blossom burst into the picture, the flower patches here are situated on terraced fields. A little exercise and care are needed to get close to most of the flowers.
Northern Blossom’s popularity has grown partly because of its unique flowers including cabbage roses and snapdragons. The farm staff told us that these cabbage roses are edible but are used mostly for ornamental purposes. The cabbage rose seedlings, like many other flowers in the farm were imported from Japan. Most of the colorful snapdragons were still in their early stages of blooming (and planted inside greenhouses) but the white ones were already in full display.
The main reason we chose to stay overnight was to get good sunrise views of the place (Northern Blossom faces east). However, a cold front hovering over northern Luzon covered the mountains in thick grayish clouds. There was just a very small opening for the sun’s golden rays to sneak through – almost invisible – but the views were still gorgeous.
Another reason for our overnight stay was to visit the Benguet – Kochi Sisterhood Park in Paoay, still inside the town of Atok. Several sakura (cherry blossom) trees were planted here in 2016 and are now beginning to blossom. Unfortunately, the people at Northern Blossom told us that the park is closed indefinitely due to measures being undertaken by the local government to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
Actually, Northern Blossom was also scheduled to be closed three days after we arrived for the same reason. With the Coronavirus – now renamed Covid 19 – situation still uncertain it is also unclear when visitors can once again enjoy the farm’s flowers. We’re wishing that won’t be too long as this farm is definitely one of the places in the northern part of the country that should not be missed.
(UPDATE: On February 24, the Northern Blossom Flower Farm, as well as other tourist destinations in Benguet, reopened to the public. However due to the Luzon-wide enhanced quarantine all are currently on lock down again until April 30 at the earliest.)
Tips and How to Get There
Northern Blossom Flower Farm is situated almost in the center of Atok town with the driveway to the farm located just off the main highway from Baguio to Bontoc (the Halsema Highway). The drive to Atok from Baguio City is about 1.5 hours away by private vehicle. The driveway leading to the farm is located on the right side of the highway just before the Atok municipal hall. Look for the signage pointing to Northern Blossom.
If commuting head up to Baguio first, then board any of the buses going to Bontoc, Besao or Sagada. Get off at the Atok municipal hall or the terminal in front of Marosan’s restaurant and just ask around for directions. Northern Blossom is just walking distance from both places.
You may also take a van at the Dangwa Station in Baguio bound for Abatan or Mankayan. There are also group tours being offered online to take visitors straight to Northern Blossom from Metro Manila.
A day tour of Northern Blossom costs P250 per adult. This includes bread and unlimited brewed coffee.
You can stay overnight like we did at any of the transient rooms inside Northern Blossom. We paid P1800 for 3 people (it’s P1500 for 2) and an additional P250 per person for the farm tour. The rooms are basic but they are clean and have hot water and comfortable beddings. The farm does not offer breakfast or lunch but just head up the town center where you can dine at Marosan’s Restaurant or San Fernando’s Restaurant. The food is good and the prices are astonishingly cheap.
January to April are the best months to visit when most of the flowers, especially the cabbage roses, are in full bloom. January and February happen to be the coldest months also so bring warm clothing when visiting on those months. The coldest temperature we encountered here was 11C but according to one of the farm staff it was 5C the previous week.