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Gardeners vie for best blooms ahead of Tet

Update: January, 18/2014 - 08:33
Tree of prosperity: Farmer Le Duc Giap in Thanh Oai District grows pomelo, orange, tangerine, kumquat and phat thu (Buddha hand-shaped fruit). — File Photos

HA NOI (VNS)   — Economic hardship seems to be a thing of the past as people are loosening their purse strings to buy expensive ornamental flowers and fruit trees for the coming Tet holidays.

The trend has stimulated gardeners to produce "unique" creations and make their fortunes.

Weeks ahead of the Tet (Lunar New Year), a large number of customers are flooding the orchard of farmer Le Duc Giap in a Ha Noi suburb, to seek unique five-fruit trees, a new tree variety that he has successfully grown.

Depending on their size and quality, the trees, which yield five fruits of pomelo, orange, tangerine, kumquat and phat thu (Buddha hand-shaped fruit), cost between VND8 million (US$380) and 25 million ($1,200) each.

"This year, I grew about 130 trees, two-thirds of which have been sold. Big trees that need a lot of tending are normally priced higher than the others," said Giap, the owner of a 1,000sq.m garden in Cao Vien commune, Thanh Oai District.

"The customers of these ‘high-end' products are open handed. They pay straightaway whatever I charge," he added.

Luxury item: The That Thon peach's flowers are highly prized among connoisseurs.

Last season, Giap earned VND1.5 billion ($70,000) from the orchard.

"Last Tet, I bought a ‘five-fruit' tree from Giap's orchard. It interested everyone who came to my house because the plants represent coziness and prosperity, and are edible," said a customer from Gia Lam District, Ha Noi.

"This year, I have come in advance to order a satisfactory tree."

Giap has created the unique ornamental tree for the New Year which falls on January 31 this year. He began grafting different fruits onto a grapefruit plant in 2008. He is known as the pioneer in this field and has been presented with many certificates by the Ha Noi Farmers' Association and Ha Noi authorities.

Giap said it was very difficult to make different kinds of fruits ripen at the same time during the Lunar New Year because by nature, each fruit has a different harvest time.

The fame of Giap's special trees has spread far and wide. Customers come from even faraway places like central Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces.

Along with their numerous original practices, customs and entertainment activities that celebrate the biggest festival of the year, the Vietnamese people decorate their living space with kumquat trees, peach or apricot blossoms (the Northerners), ochna blossoms (the Southerners) and other fresh flowers. The flowers and fruits represent the people's wish for health, happiness and material abundance.

Nhat Tan Village in Ha Noi's Tay Ho District is famous for peach blossoms. The village sells the branches or whole roots of peach trees. In recent years, the villagers have also started renting out costly ancient roots. The hiring of roots with symbolic shapes and style can cost between VND15 million ($700) and 80 million ($3,800), half the purchase price.

Chu Duc Toan, a gardener in Nhat Tan, said among a variety of peach blossoms, That Thon is the most sought-after.

"The That Thon peach is expensive because the tree is shorter, its flowers are more beautiful than the normal ones and the petals are thicker," said the experienced peach grower."Growing this type of peach is painstaking work that not every villager can do."

"The cost of a peach tree more or less depends on its style, shape and flowers, especially the position of the flowers. If flowers are located close to the root, the tree can be sold at a pretty high price because it's believed that flowers in that position mean the family will have a New Year of good fortune," Toan explained.

Meanwhile, the Lai Vung pink mandarin is among the most in-demand trees in the Mekong River Delta province of Dong Thap. Farmer Luu Van Rang in Vinh Thoi Commune, Lai Vung District, expects to provide the market with 200 pots.

He is among the first gardeners in the area to have successfully grown the mandarin tree in ceramic pots. On average, each tree costs between VND2.5 million and 3 million ($120-140). Next week, the prices are going to rise further.

Many other gardeners are also joining the business of planting and shaping fruit trees like papaya, star-fruit, plums on pots so as they can bear fruit during the Tet season.

"On the first day of the New Year, people often seek sufficiency. Thus, I have developed 20 papaya pots with an average plant height of 70cm to 80cm. Each plant already bears about five or six fruits. I plan to sell them for VND1 million ($47) each," said Nguyen Van Hieu, a flower grower in Binh Thuy District, Can Tho City. — VNS

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