|Blooms all around: A circular fountain ringed with row upon row of flowers. Da Lat is full of these visual treats at this time of the year.
|Tissue culture: A horticulturist at work in Da Lat.
|In the pink: A man is all smiles as he takes bunches of roses from a farm in Da Lat. — VNA/VNS Photos Phuong Vy
Da Lat, located on the Lam Vien (Langbian) plateau, is cool and comfortable throughout the year. It is known as the City of Flowers, the City of Pines and the City of Love. Thien Ly
Da Lat is a city that has so many things going for it that it gets a new name every once in a while.
Located on the Lam Vien (Langbian) Plateau with the year-round cool and fresh weather, it is known as the City of Flowers, the City of Pines and the City of Love. The mist that covers its valleys almost throughout the year also gives it the name, City of Eternal Spring.
Visitors to Da Lat never fail to be enchanted as they travel on the twisting roads that wind their way up and down through lush greenery that is by itself beautiful, but gets added charm when the city's famed flowers are in bloom.
These flowers are not just found in gardens and nurseries, but also grow wild on road sides and in surprising pockets all over the city. They are not typically among those that are grown for commercial purposes like tulips, dahlias, orchids and chrysanthemums.
The mai anh dao (Prunus cesacoides), phuong Tim (Jacaranda), Yellow Mimosa (Silver Wattle), ban trang (Bauhinia variegata) are some of the flowers that brighten up the city at different times of the year
Patches of cam tu cau (Hotensia), cuc (Daisy), do quyen (water-rail) and hong (Rose) are also part of the floral adornments that nature blesses Da Lat with, year after year.
It is not surprising that the city in the Central Highlands is the site of a biannual event that draws thousands of domestic and international visitors – the Da Lat Flower Festival.
Each year, organisers seem to be able to present something different and spectacular. Visiting the city at this time is to be surrounded by a sea of blooms. It proclaims loudly that Da Lat fully deserves to be called the ‘City of Flowers'.
One can also see why the city has become a honeymoon destination of choice for increasing numbers of newly-weds. The cool weather, the pine trees shrouded in mist and gorgeously colourful flowers – the setting is just right to kick-start a life of wedded bliss.
The latest Flower Festival took place on last days of 2011.
When we were about five kilometres away from the city centre, we were welcomed by uninterrupted carpets of strikingly yellow da quy flowers (Wild sunflowers or Tithonia diversifolia).
The people of Da Lat will tell you that when the first da quy flowers bloom on hillsides, they know that winter is coming. While most other flowers bloom in spring, this one is a late bloomer.
It is said that Da Lat's da quy flower has its origin in Central Amercia or Mexico. The French brought the flower to the city in the early 20th century, it is said.
At first, this flower species was planted with the aim to supply organic fertiliser for tea and coffee planatations, as it would grow easily and was also easy to cultivate. The wild sunflowers soon became a popular flower species all over the highland province. Today, as winter approaches the highlands, it is greeted by the bright yellow colour of da quy flowers.
Da Lat residents often say the da quy flower suffers the cold in order to warm up the city's atmosphere, and it fades as spring arrives.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the trinh nu hoa vang, also called Yellow Mimosa, was brought to Da Lat from Australia, and it has since become a popular flower on the Lam Vien Plateau.
Over time, it has almost become a city symbol and can be found growing wild all over the place – around villas, along the streets, on hill sides, in valleys, in forests or by the lakes.
The yellow mimosa begins to show its exquisite yellow buds late in the winter and blooms till the end of the spring.
The flower has a romantic tag. Students pick the little blooms to press between the pages of their books and exchange them with their loved ones.
As the last winds of the winter season begin to blow, the phuong tim (Jacaranda) tree on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street in Da Lat City begins to display bunches of bell-shaped flowers that have dreamy, purple coloured pupils, that stand out beautifully against the city's blue skies.
This old Jacaranda tree is the first of the species that was planted in Da Lat in 1960 by a Vietnamese agronomist who received it from his friend living in a remote African country.
Da Lat is splendid in spring, striking in summer, charming in winter and romantic in autumn. Truly a place for all seasons! — VNS