The Owner of Precious Orchid Collection
June 04th 2012.
Over 70 years old, with his Vespa motorbike, he still travels around the city. Some people think that he is just sixty. He is teacher Le Van Thanh (Add: No.26G, Yersin Street, Dalat, Lam Dong). Twenty years after retirement, Mr. Le has owned and maintained a collection with over 2000 kinds of Vietnam orchids.
30 years devoted for teaching
From Quang Tri, he left his homeland in 1950 and settled in Dalat. In 1961, he passed Baccalaureate Committee A (concluding biology, chemistry, etc) and began a job as a teacher.
Nearly 30 years in teaching, Professor Thanh devoted all his life for many students of this land. He also witnessed many changes in his second homeland. According to him, being a teacher is not only a training job but also an art work because the focus of education is human, and “training humans” requires a special skill which is the skill of “training human’s heart”.
Retiring from classes, he felt so empty. Professor Thanh needed to find something to relax his soul. Thanks to his knowledge of biology and chemistry as well as his love of nature, Professor Thanh began to “take part in” the world of Dalat flowers and bonsai – a new area for himself.
The owner of precious collection of orchids in Vietnam
Entering the orchid flower garden of Professor Le Van Thanh, which is located on a small path, I was really surprised by the colorful space of various kinds of orchids. The most beautiful time for blooming orchids is after Lunar New Year. However, in Thanh’s garden (about 200m2 area), orchids bloom all year round. Orchids’ fragrance helps us relax after a hard working day. Traveling around his garden, Mr. Le gradually and happily introduced each name as well as its origin, such as “huyết nhung”, “tuyết ngọc”, “tóc tiên”, “thủy tiên”, “tai trâu”, “gấm Thượng Hải”, “quế hương”, “long châu”, “xích lan”, “hồ điệp rừng”, “hương duyên”, “lọng”, etc. There are many different kinds of “lọng”, 500 kinds in over 200 orchids. Thanh’s garden also includes the collection of some rare orchids of Vietnam, such as “mỹ dung’, “thanh hạt”, “tuyết ngọc trắng tuyền”, “cẩm báo” (brown, blue, etc). Each orchid has a unique beauty: gentle, luxurious, small or unusual in shape, etc.
For such a precious orchid collection in Dalat, Mr. Le Van Thanh has spent over twenty years traveling around the country, from big cities to small hamlets, purchasing or collecting, etc. to find a special flower; and then handles them with all his heart. With him, present success is requires hard work, money, and sometimes failure. He shared: “When I retired, home economics was really difficult for me, especially to accumulate a month’s pension of investments while growing an orchid garden. After several years of losing orchids due to spreading diseases, I switched to collecting and growing orchids.
According to teacher Thanh, orchids require much work and knowledge of the characteristics of each species for orchid growing. In addition to his collection, he also buys or trades the original rolls or branches from trees (with beautiful designs), clips them with little whips, irrigates, fertilizes, shapes and … a few months later, the roots of the orchids cling to the twigs green development, as though the individual orchid had been an original flower like that.
The Master said, at present, Vietnam has about 500-700 species of orchids’. His collection includes more than 200 species, but in his forthcoming collection he will continue to increase the number of orchid species. With his precious collection of orchids, Mr. Thanh has won various popular awards in flower and bonsai exhibitions of the Dalat Flower Festival for several years. He is a member of the rare orchid club which is part of the Dalat Flower Association. Currently, his orchids are displayed at the Dalat Flower Biology Ltd. Co. Mr. Le Van Thanh’s orchids, at present, are not only tourist products of Flower City but also “precious documents” for experts to conduct research on orchid flowers.
Chatting with him in the summer season surrounded by his colorful orchid garden, I feel so comfortable. How beautiful it is for a man who is collecting “the fragrance of forest”.
By Thanh Duong Hong