West Lake’s famed peach blossoms on the move
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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 Lam Ha district is the flower garden of Chu Van Loi in Nam Ban Town. Covering an area of 3,500sq.m., 500 peach-blossom trees are budding up for Tet (Vietnamese New Year) holiday.
An authentic Nhat Tan peach blossom has special characteristics, including a round canopy with dense buds and densely scattered blooms.
“They will keep blooming until about January 25 on the lunar calendar (March 12),” Loi 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 Da Lat city, Loi still receives many offers.
“I sell a tree at a fixed price of VND200,000 (US$8.8) no matter how big it is. For those big and beautiful trees, retailers can earn VND600,000 to 700,000 (US$26 to US$31) each,” he added.
Loi leases his most magnificent trees for up to VND15 million (US$660). For example, an ancient indigenous peach blossom tree from Lam Dong province has been grafted with Nhat Tan 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 Loi’s craft. Beautiful trees are often returned to his garden for a professional care after New Year.
Nguyen Van Hai, who moved from a village by the Red River in 1980, told Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper that because of homesickness, he made paper flowers and dyed them pink.
“The cultivation of Nhat Tan peach blossoms in the hills takes me to Nam Ban Town in Lam Ha district every year. Having a tree in my house makes me feel close to home,” he said.
Pham Van Muoi, 70, said that he had moved to Da Lat city for more than four decades. Only in Loi’s garden could he see a variety of authentic Nhat Tan indigenous peach blossom trees. Driving 20km through the dangerous Ta Nung pass, Muoi recently went to buy a peach blossom branch to decorate his house.
Loi agreed to sell Muoi the branch he chose. The old man then said happily: “I was born in Nhat Tan Village. Peach blossoms are an inseparable part of Tet in my heart. I will put this branch in the most outstanding place in our house.”
The meaning of peach blossoms came out in Loi when he visited his older brother who moved to Lam Dong 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 Hanoi that it surprised Nam Ban residents.
In 2000, Loi’s family moved to Lam Dong province, taking along 50 Nhat Tan 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 Tet 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 Da Lat city,” he said.
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