Uncle Ho's Garden
Right in the heart of the boisterous capital city, President Ho Chi Minh's house-on-stilts stands in the luxuriant garden full of birds' songs and flower fragrance. It is truly a spectacular spot. The flora here is abundant. A house-on-stilts is sheltered beneath green trees next to a pond, creating the familiar rural atmosphere. It is a world of nature and man harmony. At the same time, it is also an arboretum providing varieties to many places. In this spectacular natural landscape is a scientific museum of precious and rare plants, both domestic and alien.
The garden surrounding Ho Chi Minh's house-on-stilts is a part of the floral carpet stretching out to Nung Mount and the Botanical Garden which have existed for centuries. According to many scientific surveys and studies, the garden occupies an area of 14.7 ha in which 6.7 ha are covered in green. There are 1,243 plants of 149 species (78 indigenous, 56 alien and 15 unidentified). They include 33 species of fruit trees, 59 species providing shade and timber, and 57 species of flowers and ornamental plants. In this flora, some species have more than 100 individual specimens while others have only one or two specimens. There are many valuable century-old plants reaching a diameter of 100 cm on their trunk. The flora consists of different layers, forming an original tropical forest, which should be protected and developed.
Since President Ho Chi Minh moved here, the forest-garden was refurbished. Wild grasses and bushes were cleared and replaced with new species of plants from all comers of the country. After each of his visits to other countries, the President always brought back precious trees and planted them in the garden. For example, in China, he heard that the oil palm was an economically profitable tree, he immediately brought this variety home. He suggested the Deputy Minister of Agriculture dispatch five cadres to Hainan Island to study the cultivation and processing of oil palms. He also sought and imported some non-deciduous plants to Viet Nam to ease the burden of work of street-cleaners. At the gate of his house-on-stilts, the President placed two orchid trees, naming them "Space trees" to commemorate the Soviet Union's great scientific achievement: dispatching the female astronaut into the universe in the spaceships Orient V and V I, for the first time in human history. On the both sides of the pier over his pond, Ho Chi Minh planted two coconut trees, which he brought back from Indonesia in February 1959. Both of them grew luxuriant and became the symbol of international friendship.
Formerly, in the meetings of the Governmental Council, President Ho Chi Minh used to present every participant with oranges from his garden. In January 1962, he received the Russian Hero Astronaut Gherman Titov. Then, he took the hero to the garden and picked some oranges to give to the latter. Also, the President often offered fruits from his garden to visiting children.The President watched over the trees and plants with utmost care. When a tall tree was uprooted by strong winds, he ordered removal of its top before replanting it. For the trees hollowed by insects, he used medical resin to close the hole. Not far from his house-on-stilts, there is a big banyan tree with many aerial roots. He instructed his orderlies to dip these roots into water containers, so that the roots could reach the ground faster. Many people called the tree "Banyan Tree of Patience" to allude to the President's teaching on perseverance. He also bent and shaped a flower trellis into a beautiful peacock beneath which he often read books and received guests.
For him, planting trees and flowers became a habit and lifestyle. He preferred to grow flowers with fragrances such as jasmine, hyacinth, grapefruit, etc. After his morning exercise, he would pick jasmine flowers and kept them in his rooms to bring about a naturally healthy fragrance. At night, the
hyacinth scent pervaded the residence. In the garden, the trees could provide fruits all the year round, attracting a lot of birds. So the residence of President Ho Chi Minh was always filled with the fragrance of flowers and lovely songs of birds. Ho Chi Minh also liked planting common flowers which were familiar to people. Along the pathway to his house-on-stilts, the President grew hibiscus, forming a natural beautiful fence similar to that at his parents' home in Sen Village in Nghe An Province. He cultivated tea plants near the house and several flamboyant trees by the pond. He even encouraged schools to grow flamboyant flowers.
After a trip to China, he brought back a lilac-flower ban tree, which blossomed at noon, giving fragrance. Later, he multiplied the tree to be planted at the Central Guesthouse near West Lake. Each flower variety and plant in the garden is a memory of Ho Chi Minh's life. His garden became more abundant and beautiful thanks to the presence of various fruit trees from over the country: long an, litchi, orange, grapefruit, persimmon, coconut, star apple, etc. The President's love for nature was great. After working hours, together with his orderlies, he tended the soil to plant flowers and vegetables. Living in such a fresh, cool and quiet environment, many ideas flashed in his mind: He initiated the Tree Planting Festival, which has become a popular springtime movement. Ho Chi Minh always wanted to live close to nature. In his famous- Testament, he suggested to build his commemorative site on a tree-covered hill.