Story: HUYNH PHUONG
Photos: PHAM NGUYEN BAO, HUYNH PHUONG
Discover the villages where people are busy growing flowers to welcome a bright spring.
As we traveled through the Southwest’s largest and most beautiful ” flower capital”, we couldn’t help but be amazed by the fields of chrysanthemums shining gold in the sun. The blooms were meticulously cared for, in preparation for delivery to houses and gardens to welcome spring.
SA DEC FLOWER VILLAGE
Sa Dec Flower Village is the name of a floricultural area in Sa Dec City, Dong Thap Province. Elderly locals still refer to this area as “Tan Quy Dong flower village”, which was the “cradle” of flowergrowers from 1900 to 1930, owing to its fertile water and the alluvium accretions along the banks of the Tien River. Through the ebbs and flows of history, the flower village has developed and expanded. Today, over 2,300 households work in the ornamental flower business, primarily in Tan Quy Dong Ward. The ornamental flowers grown for Tet 2023 will cover approximately 100 hectares, an increase of 40 hectares compared to last year. On both sides of Provincial Road 848, which runs through Tan Khanh Dong Commune from Sa Dec to Cao Lanh City, households primarily grow hardy chrysanthemums. The flowers are transported to the center of Sa Dec Flower Village in Tan Quy Dong Ward, the western provinces, and major cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City before December 23 of the lunar calendar – when the kitchen gods depart for heaven.
HARDY CHRYSANTHEMUMS – A SYMBOL OF UNITY
A pot of chrysanthemums has hundreds of stems. Green leaves shoot from these stems, while hundreds of thousands of tiny buds form a dome. When in bloom, the plant resembles a heaping mound of sticky rice, which gave rise to its Vietnamese name cúc mâm xôi (sticky rice plate chrysanthemum). Chrysanthemums, or garden mums, are one of the most popular types of flowers during Tet because they are associated with Vietnam’s cultural and spiritual life. Local governments often use garden mums to decorate government buildings, municipal flower beds, and flower streets. Meanwhile, people love these flowers because they last for over a month after Tet, and the round blooms symbolize a prosperous and happy new year.
A PLENTIFUL HARVEST
Sa Dec is known for its hardy chrysanthemums, which are grown in pots on a trellis above flooded fields, where people row boats to water the flowers. Garden mums take about six months to bloom. As soon as the green buds turn yellow, gardeners focus on bringing them to bloom. In the morning, men row boats out to water the plants’ roots, spraying the beds lightly to avoid over-watering. Women stand on rowboats and pick small shoots and secondary flowers off the main branches on each pot to prevent the flowers from shrinking when they bloom.
In 2023, Sa Dec will supply nearly 300,000 pots of chrysanthemums to the market. One family with over 20 years of floricultural experience in Tan Khanh Dong reported that they had planted 10,000 pots of garden mums. These pots will to dealers for between VND150,000 and 200,000 each, depending on their size and beauty.
A POPULAR PHOTO BACKDROP
When the flowers are in bloom, many photographers and tourists visit the chrysanthemum villages. Touring the chrysanthemum gardens has become one of Dong Thap’s signature tourism products. Pham Thuy Duong, a visitor from An Giang, expressed her delight at donning an ao ba ba and an ao dai to pose for photos in a field of chrysanthemums, commemorating a beautiful memory from her youth. Pham Gia Bao, a young man from Ho Chi Minh City, relished the opportunity to assist photographers by dressing up as a farmer standing on a rowboat. From above, each parallel row of potted chrysanthemums stands out in yellow and green, dotted with gardeners working between the rows dotted with gardeners working between the rows to create a warm and peaceful welcome to spring.