For decades, Nhat Tan and Quang Ba wards in Tay Ho District have been known for peach flower gardens. But in recent years, many garden owners have started offering a different product. As young people embrace the trend of taking professional photos in picturesque locations, garden owners have transformed their property into outdoor photo studios, planting daisies, sunflowers and violets and adding extras from windmills to wisteria tunnels.
Pham Sy Thanh, who has grown peach flowers and kumquats for over 20 years, invested more than VND1 billion (US$500,000) to rebuild his 3,000sq.m garden in 2012.
“Growing peach flowers and kumquats, we have to work hard for the whole year, but earn money only in one season – Lunar New Year festival,” said Thanh. “So I decided to improve the garden to welcome more guests.”
Because people buy peach blossoms for the Lunar New Year, growing them requires timing their blossoming exactly for the holiday. However, if the weather one year is too cold or hot, the peach flowers fail to bloom at the right moment and growers suffer losses. Photo gardens, on the other hand, can be enjoyed during a much longer period.
Thanh hired architects and builders to arrange a lake, bridge, white painted fence, benches, swings and other decorative sections in the garden. He planted different kinds of flowers to make the garden colourful all year round and employed workers to prune the trees every day.
Nguyen Duc Chung, manager of a 5.5ha flower garden at Nhat Chieu Street, said that besides planting colourful flowers, the garden owner also installed Dutch-style windmills and wooden houses and Japanese-style wisteria tunnels.
“Young girls and couples love posing with these beautiful and romantic sights,” said Chung.
Opening the gardens is much more profitable for farmers than selling peach blossoms – and far less risky. Each customer pays VND10,000 to visit the gardens; wedding photos cost VND100,000 per couple. The owners also earn money from keeping guests’ vehicles.
As more farmers convert their flower gardens to out-door studios, some are concerned that Nhat Tan peach blossoms – a symbol of spring in Ha Noi – will die out.
However, Le Ham, one of the first garden owners to launch the new service, still keeps a place for planting peaches. In fact, the income he earns from the photo garden is what allows him to continue growing peach trees, even when they are not profitable.
“The changing weather in recent years caused losses for farmers,” he said. “The income collected from photo takers helps guarantee our living. Since we are no longer dependent on the income from selling peach blossoms, we can preserve the trade, which has been passed down through many generations in my family.”
Ngo Ngoc Dai, vice director of the capital Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said office was working on a project to protect Nhat Tan peach genes so they could be planted in other regions.
“Nhat Tan people want to preserve their traditional trade because it was passed down from generation to generation,” he said.
Young people who take photos at the flower gardens also value the traditional blossoms.
“I think Nhat Tan peach blossom has a big place in the spiritual life of Ha Noi people, especially when spring comes,” said Nguyen Thuy Duong, 26, who often visits the flower gardens in Tay Ho District to take photos.