|Getting ready: Lợi brings the Tết vibe to the Central Higlands. — Photo tienphong.com.vn
LÂM ĐỒNG — Nhật Tân peach blossoms, once the pride of Hà Nội’s West Lake, are now blooming vigorously in Lâm Hà District in the Central Highlands province of Lâm Đồng where hundreds of people moved from the capital.
This gives the high-priced blossoms a double competitive advantage. Not only are they considered the best, but the cool hill weather keeps the buds from opening too soon.
Among the lovely farms in Lâm Hà District is the flower garden of Chu Văn Lợi in Nam Ban Town. Covering an area of 3,500sq.m., 500 peach-blossom trees are budding up for Tết (Vietnamese New Year) Holiday.
An authentic Nhật Tân peach blossom has special characteristics, including a round canopy with dense buds and denseley scattered blooms.
“They will keep blooming until about January 25 on the lunar calendar (March 12),” Lợi said.
Every day now, his garden welcomes visitors admiring and buying the flowers. Although most of the trees have been ordered by a trader in Đà Lạt City, Lợi still receives many offers.
“I sell a tree at a fixed price of VNĐ200,000 (US$8.80) no matter how big it is. For those big and beautiful trees, retailers can earn VNĐ600,000 to 700,000 ($26 to $31) each,” he added.
Lợi leases his most magnificent trees for up to VNĐ15 million ($660). For example, an ancient indigenous peach blossom tree from Lâm Đồng Province has been grafted with Nhật Tân buds and painstakingly shaped. It is hired each year by a local bank.
Taking care of peach blossom trees after they have been sold is another part of Lợi’s craft. Beautiful trees are often returned to his garden for a professional care after New Year.
Nguyễn Văn Hải, who moved from a village by the Red River in 1980, told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper that because of homesickness, he made paper flowers and dyed them pink.
“The cultivation of Nhật Tân peach blossoms in the hills takes me to Nam Ban Town in Lâm Hà District every year. Having a tree in my house makes me feel close to home,” he said.
Phạm Văn Mười, 70, said that he had moved to Đà Lạt City for more than four decades. Only in Lợi’s garden could he see a variety of authentic Nhật Tân indigenous peach blossom trees. Driving 20km through the dangerous Tà Nùng pass, Mười recently went to buy a peach blossom branch to decorate his house.
Lợi agreed to sell Mười the branch he chose. The old man then said happily: “I was born in Nhật Tân Village. Peach blossoms are an inseparable part of Tết in my heart. I will put this branch in the most outstanding place in our house.”
The meaning of peach blossoms came out in Lợi when he visited his older brother who moved to Lâm Đồng Province several years ago. As a tree owned by his brother had no flowers, he stayed to take care of and help it bloom. That spring, the peach blossom tree became such a gorgeous reminder of Hà Nội that it surprised Nam Ban residents.
In 2000, Lợi’s family moved to Lâm Đồng Province, taking along 50 Nhật Tân trees. Highland soil and climate affect the colour and quality of blossoms. It took him two years to get the blooming time right at the Tết holiday - and with a perfect pinkish shade of petals.
The key of his expertise lies on the use of fish manure. Also, like all bonsai experts, he bends branches to make a tree look good from every angle.
“My peach blossom trees have to be perfect to meet the strict demands of flower markets in HCM City or Đà Lạt City,” he said. — VNS