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Flower embalmer keeps blooms fresh

Update: April, 07/2013 - 05:23
Perfection: With talent and passion, Hoa has carved out a niche market in flowers. — VNS File Photos

It's a shame to watch the most beautiful flower specimens wilt and fade. But for one man this is not a problem. He became a flower embalmer and nurtures the secret of keeping petals fresh for years. Khac Duơng and An Vuơ report.

Road to success: Hoa has been through a series of failures. Today, he runs Ho Thuy, an embalming company and he's deluged with orders,

What made life more beautiful than flowers? asked Nguyeăn Cong Hoa, stroking the petals of his latest blooms.

Many flower lovers wish they could preserve their most beautiful specimens. But for 54-year-old Hoa, this dream blossomed into reality. When he became a flower embalmer, he learned the secret to keeping petals fresh for years.

"Today, there are more and more people who are wealthy and want to spend a lot of money on their weddings. Instead of a fresh flower bouquet – which would end up in the trash bin after just a few days – brides and grooms today prefer radiant blossoms whose petals are carefully embalmed so they can last for a long time," he explained.

As the wedding season heats up, the embalmer sees increased need for his services. He says that the 80,000 roses in the backyard might not be enough to satisfy demand.

Blaze of colour: Embalming flowers is popular in some countries, while in Viet Nam it has yet to take hold.

But before this success, Hoa's path was full of thorns.

Born in the central province of B́nh Ḍnh, he moved to Da Lat in 1979, where he started his career as a gardener.

"Living in a community of farmers, I saw how hard they work to make these beautiful plants. The ugly truth is, we put all our efforts and money into them, but they often end up selling for a very low price," he recalled.

After a French friend sent Hoa a branch of embalmed flowers upon returning to his country, he got the idea to start his own preservation business.

"I could not believe my eyes when I saw that the roses had stayed fresh and aromatic after the long trip from France to Viet Nam. I stayed up all night researching embalming technology on the internet, but I was disappointed by the lack of information. I sought help at science institutes and from biology experts, but the result was the same. At last, I decided to learn the trade on my own," he said.

While flower embalming is not yet a trend in Viet Nam, the process has been in vogue in other countries for many years. To embalm flowers, the leaves, stems and petals are soaked separately for many hours in chemicals, then heated. After being reconstructed, they can keep their brilliant colours for a long time.

Hoa first experimented with roses in his own garden. He used thousands of rose petals for his first embalmment efforts. When he ran out of petals, he tuned to neighbours for support. He even mortgaged his land to buy the necessary chemicals and set up a small laboratory worth billions of dong.

"I stayed up until 2 or 3 in the morning to colour and perfume the flowers. But it all led to failure," he said. "With 3,000 withered petals and a mountain of debt, I often thought of giving up."

But after rechecking his process, Hoa realised he had missed a significant step. He started over from the beginning and the next 300 petals turned the correct hue.

The success earned him a reputation throughout Viet Nam and overseas and a record in Viet Nam's Guinness Book as the first man ever to embalm flowers and change their colour. Today, he runs Hoa Thuy, an embalming company. But while he's deluged with orders, Hoa still takes time to make sure each flower blooms to its full potential. — VNS

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