CULTURE 25

FLOWERS            

Lotus (Hoa Sen)

Lotus is a plant with a flexible trunk that lives mainly in water. According to leg­end, it appeared one hundred mil­lion years ago. There are sever­al varieties of lotus, including a type of lotus with a red trunk and double petals called qui. Another variety with a very small trunk, leaves, and flowers is called tich thuong. Ordinarily, these are planted in pots or water tanks. Lotus scent is mildly perfumed, and the plant has many uses. For example, the flower is ordinarily used in worshipping ceremonies. Its pistil has white grains used in scenting tea. Lotus leaves serve to wrap food products, or to wrap com (green rice flakes). Lotus seeds are used to prepare a tonic, make sweet drinks (che), accompany chicken to make soup, etc. When dried and simmered, the tam (central longitudinal part of a lotus pip) makes a good tranquilliser. In Viet Nam, lotus is classified as one the “four gentlemen” flowers along with pine, bamboo, and chrysanthemum. Lotus is also classified as one in the four qui (four sea­sons), which also includes orchid, chrysan­themum, and apricot. Lotus is the symbol of summer because it blossoms in summer when there is a lot of sunlight and its scent lightly perfumes the air all around the pond.

Chrysanthemum (Hoa Cuc)

The chrysanthemum is a type of beautiful flower with a mild and secretive scent. Its petals do not fall like those of roses or other flowers, which is why chrysanthemums are I often placed on altars. They can be displayed in various ways, such as in a vase, a pot, a bowl, or planted in jars to decorate the house, or be placed on the balcony or on the veranda. Chrysanthemums are classified into two classes, single or dou­ble flowers. All the varieties have very refined and soft colours; there are yellow and white flowers. Chrysanthemums are planted all year round. The chrysanthemum is often looked upon as an intimate friend, classified as one of the “gentleman” flowers. The chrysanthemum has many uses in art and medicine.

Orchids (Hoa Lan)

Orchids are sovereign flowers that are enchantingly beautiful. The orchid is one of the four plants that symbolise the four sea­sons, and one of the four plants to symbolise the “gentleman”. Orchids usually grow on the trunks of very high, big trees, located on cliffs where it is humid and where sunlight is abundant. There are two groups of orchids, including aerial orchids (phong lan) and terrestrial orchids (dia lan). Aerial orchids usually have their roots anchored in high, big trees and their branches hang down from the tree trunks. They have very thin petals, but their colours are time enduring. Their scent is very mild, soft, and pure. Terrestrial orchids, on the con­trary, have their roots anchored in the earth or a hollow in a rock where there is humus or lit­ter. The terrestrial orchids, with varieties that include bach cap, to tam, hoang vu, anh kim, hac dinh, loan diem, etc., have bright colours and mild and flowing scents. Orchids come from the mountainous regions of the country, but because of their amiable beauty, they are present in all the famous flower villages on the plains. Da Lat Flower Garden is an almost complete collection of all of the precious and rare orchids of Viet Nam.

Peach Flower (Hoa Dao)

The peach flower plant grows only in the North. It is the special flower of the Lunar New Year because of its red colour, which is believed to bring many favourable opportuni­ties throughout the year.  There are four varieties of peach flowers. The dao bich has a deep rosy colour and the plant bears many flowers; it is usually planted in jars or pots for entertaining during the New Year. The dao phai (pale peach flower) flower is a pale rosy colour and the plant bears many flowers, but is generally planted for its fruits. The dao bach (white peach flower) is relatively difficult to grow. These three varieties of peach flow­ers all bear double flowers. The thon plant is small and low; the flowers are small and of many colours. Among those colours, those that are deep red are generally grown in pots and their trunks and branches generally bend so that it becomes an ornamental plant. The sprigs of the peach flowers from the village of Nhat Tan are a precious gift sent to relatives living in the South on the occasion of the New Year. The peach flower plant and its flowers are now present in many European countries.

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