Saigon's largest yellow mai flower village a picture of Tet diligence

By Nguyet Nhi   January 20, 2020 | 07:34 pm GMT+7

Gardeners in a village on Saigon’s outskirts have been burning the midnight oil to spread golden Tet happiness to celebrants across the country.

A worker sprays water onto pots of apricot trees that are gradually flowering.The apricot village in the outlying district of Thu Duc is home to around 20 garden houses with more than 30 hectares used for growing yellow apricot blossoms, a symbol of Tet in southern Vietnam. This is the city largest apricot village and its peak time is always one week before Lunar New Year, or Tet, the country’s biggest and most important festival.

A worker sprays water onto pots of yellow mai bonsai that have produced a lot of buds. Having the trees and plants bloom right at Tet (Lunar New Year festival) time is a skill that has been honed over decades by gardeners across the country.

The Thu Duc Yellow Mai Village in Saigon’s Thu Duc District is home to around 20 orchards covering more than 30 hectares that are reserved for cultivating and tending to the yellow mai trees, whose blossoms are an indispensable part of Tet traditions in southern Vietnam, just as the peach blossoms are in the north.

Peak time of the year for Saigon’s largest yellow mai blossoms village is a week before Tet, the country’s biggest and most important festival.

At Ba Son garden, there are nearly 500 apricot trees to serve Tet demand. Vietnamese people have a long tradition of keeping pots of yellow apricot trees in front of their homes to pray for luck and prosperity.Nguyen Thanh Nhut, owner of the garden, said that this year the weather is quite favorable for growers. About two months ago, many familiar businesses in Hanoi called me to order and a few day before Tet we started packing and transporting to them, he said.

At the Ba Son orchard, there are nearly 500 yellow mai trees being nurtured. Its owner Nguyen Thanh Nhut, said that weather has been quite favorable this year.

"About two months ago, many regular businesses in Hanoi called me to place orders and a few days before Tet, we started packing and transporting them," he said.

The cross-country transportation of these bonsai trees are done by trucks, and they are returned in the same manner after the festival when the trees are hired, and not sold.

On peak days, workers start work from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., including tending trees, welcoming customers, and wrapping trees to transport to northern provinces. 

During peak days, orchard workers start their day from 6 a.m. and go on until 9 p.m., tending to the bonsai trees, welcoming customers, and wrapping them for transportation to different areas of the city, the region and other parts of the country.

Hoa (L) and Lien, workers of a garden in Thu Duc, take care of an apricot tree and make branches and buds firmer to ensure safety during transportation. Both earn VND350,000 ($15.1) a day.    

Hoa (L) and Lien, prune and bind branches with wire to ensure safety for the large yellow mai bonsai tree during transportation. They are paid VND350,000 ($15) a day.

Nguyen Van Loc (R), owner of a garden house on Pham Van Dong Street, introduces pots of apricot trees for a customer. This job is no less difficult than farmers and the whole year we only look forward to Tet holiday to boost income, he said.This year the weather is quite good, so the care and trade are also more favorable, said Loc, who has more than 20 years of experience in growing apricot blossoms.

Nguyen Van Loc (R), the owner of an orchard on Pham Van Dong Street, introduces a yellow mai bonsai to a customer. "This job is no less difficult than that of farmers and for the whole year we only look forward to the Tet holiday to boost income.

"This year the weather has been quite good, so the care and trade is also more favorable," said Loc, who has more than 20 years of experience in growing yellow mai blossoms.

Six workers carry a large pot of apricot tree to deliver it to customers.According to the workers, the large apricot trees there are around 20 years old. To transporting them, it requires many strong workers.  

Six workers carry a large yellow mai tree to a pickup for delivery to customers. One of the workers said the larger trees in the orchard are about 20 years old.

Workers use paper and nylon to wrap pots of apricot trees before moving them to Hanoi. This kind of large apricot trees costs from VND80 million ($3,452) to VND500 million ($21,579). 

Workers use paper and nylon ropes to wrap large yellow mai trees before they are transported to Hanoi. The large trees cost between VND80 million ($3,450) to VND500 million ($21,580), but can be hired for lesser sums.  

Drivers transport an apricot tree on a tricyle to a private firm in District 3 who hired it for Tet decoration at VND40 million.According to apricot garden owners, in addition to buying apricot pots for home decoration during Tet, the trend of renting apricot trees is becoming more and more popular because rents are much lower than buying prices. And the renters do not have to worry about caring for apricot trees after Tet. One apricot tree costs up to VND500 million but when renting it will range from VND80 to VND100 million. 

A pickup transports a yellow mai tree to a private firm in District 3 that has hired it as Tet decoration for VND40 million ($1,730).

Yellow mai orchard owners in the village said that the trend to rent large trees is becoming more and more popular, because it is cheaper and hassle-free. Rents range from VND80-100 million. 

 
 
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