Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Growing Orchids in Vietnam

"An old saying..."Vua choi lan, quan choi tra" (A king collects orchids, a mandarin collects camellias)....anyone with VND40,000-50,000 (US$2.50-3) can buy a pot of orchids – and many Hanoi residents are doing so...To successfully make an orchid bloom, enthusiasts say, the gardener must have a pure heart and the patience of a saint.Orchids won't bring their owners material wealth or social status, they explain. So those with enough dedication to tend to these delicate flowersand wait for their... blooms must do so simply to enjoy the personal challenge and test of their patience.Duong Xuan Trinh, chairman of the Ha Noi Orchid Association, says this challenge gives orchids their appeal... orchids demand daily care...As orchid owners slowly coax their babies to bloom, they can have temporary respite from the stresses of daily life. For a few minutes a day, orchid owners can forget blaring motorbike horns and grumpy clients and concentrate their attention on a single quiet, deliberate task."Nurturing orchids relieves my anxiety after the working day," says Vu Quoc Viet, a 37-year-old orchid lover.For the retired, tending orchids provides a perfect form of personal entertainment. "Growing orchid plants is suitable for the elderly as it doesn't requiretoo much time or physical exertion," Trinh says.Orchids have become so popular that they are joining the list of plants used as Tet (Lunar New Year) decorations, which has long been limited topeach-blossom branches and kumquat trees.... From a handful of original members, the Ha Noi Orchid Association has expanded to over 200 enthusiasts. The group, mostly retired people andamateur orchid growers, meets every two months to exchange ideas and techniques for growing..."Growing orchids requires a great deal of [some...] scientific knowledge," Trinh says...."... based on the diversity of orchid species in Vietnam, it could be said that Vietnam is the world's cradle of orchid growing," says Tran Tuan Anh, an orchid hunter with 20 years' experience....According to the 2003 statistics of Russian researcher Leonid V Averyanov and his daughter Anna L Averyanova, there are 897 orchid species inVietnam. Tuan Anh puts the number over 900, saying that a number of species in the forest and his garden haven't yet been identified....Tuan Anh's orchid-searching adventures in Vietnam's most remote areas have produced a garden with over 300 types of orchids - more varieties than any other garden in Hanoi, he boasts.He even helped to identify four orchid species in Vietnam (and then named three of them after himself): Hoang thao Tran Tuan (Dendrobium trantuanii), Vanda Tuan Anh (Vanda tuananhii), Lan hai Tuan Anh (Paphiopedilum trantuanhii) and Hoang thao Viet Nam (Dendrobium V[v]ietnamica).Tuan Anh still remembers his first glimpse of lan hai (Paphiopedilum) on a trip to Son La, a mountainous province in northern Vietnam, in October 2003. At an elevation of 1,000m above sea level, he happened to spot a bundle of flowers that were distinct from any he had ever seen. The largeblossoms were brownish red in colour, with white calyxes in the front and green in the back. Struck by the beauty of the flowers, he shot photographsuntil he ran out of film and then hurried back to Hanoi.Considered a local expert, Tuan Anh has set up a website on Vietnam's orchids and assists both researchers and amateurs with information.With only a handful of experts like Tuan Anh, however, Vietnam's orchid-growing industry remains in its developing stages. Breedingtechnology and training in Vietnam remain limited, so some orchid growers have headed to Thailand for education.Le Xuan Truong spent two years learning from the expertise of a Thai grower, and the 38-year-old now owns a 1,000sq.m garden and 2ha farmproducing dendrobium. Every day, between 5,000 and 7,000 branches of flowers are sold wholesale, and sales hit 100,000 on special occasions likeWomen's Day. With branches selling for VND30,000 ($2) a piece, Truong's business has proven lucrative.As word gets out that business is booming, others will like[ly] follow suit to supply the many people who have fallen for the flower that plays hard toget."URL : http://english.vietnamnet.vn/lifestyle/2008/02/768024/


Steve Peralta


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