05/04/2022 8:55:44 SA
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Hue ancient capital city is a cultural tourist center of Vietnam. It is most well-known as a city of garden and poem, in which the royal gardens together with such other types as mansion’s garden, pagoda’s garden, royal residence’s garden, royal tomb’s garden and house’s garden form a special architectural complex of Hue region.

Under Nguyen emperors’ time, especially from the reigns of Minh Mang emperor till Thieu Tri emperor, the art of garden forming, landscape shaping and decorating tree planting best developed. Series of royal gardens with big scale and hight artistic values were created to serve the entertainment of the royalties; strange trees and fragrant flowers nationwide were gathered for the landscape decoration.

Minh Mang emperor’s time marked the splendid advance of the royal garden architecture. 24 out of 36 royal gardens in Hue capital city under Nguyen dynasty were built during this time. With the strong development in terms of construction and design, in 1821, the emperor had 02 royal residential gardens named Ngu Vien and Doanh Chau formed; in 1838, 15 gardens namely Tinh Tam Lake, Xuan Vien, Diem Luc, Tu Mau, Thanh Phuong, Tien nhuan, Phon Phong, Tu Thanh, Thuy My, Mau Hanh, Vinh Xuong, Tu Phat, Vinh Am, Vinh Tu, and Vinh Le constructed both within and beyond the capital city.


Under the reign of Thieu Tri emperor, to take advantage of the proper scenery landscapes of the capital city, the emperor had Thu Quan royal garden builts. In 1843 (the third year of Thieu Tri emperor’s reign), he had Co Ha Duong reformed to be a royal garden called Co Ha. This poetically profound emperor did write many poems about Co Ha royal garden.

Together with the continuous building of royal gardens under the reign of such emperors as Minh Mang (1820-1840), Thieu Tri (1841-1847), and Tu Đuc (1848-1883), this period marked the forming of talented artisans nationwide who were keen on shaping the garden and landscape that applied the Oriental and Vietnamese traditional royal garden styles.

Admittedly, Hue ancient capital city has gathered the quintessence of decorative trees from XVII till now. It has kept many royal gardens, garden houses, eco-tourist zones as well as artisans being expert in decorative trees and flowers. Hue decorative tree planting was precise and traditionally Vietnamese royal, which was not diversified in tree types and considerable in sizes, but could afford to express the traditional tales, wishes, affections and the traditional as well as Confucius philosophies of Vietnamese people. Meanwhile, in many northern provinces such as Nam Dinh and Thai Binh, the decorative tree planting developed strongly and was the market supplying decorative trees for the whole country and internationally. The decorative tree planting of the North mainly focused on the economic desire of the public rather than the “preciseness” and “legend”.

Different from the North and the Central, the South has been with fine weather that is convenient for the biological technology. Hence, it is the source of strange and qualified flowers. Nonetheless, the decorative tree planting of the South is seen at Da Lat, binh Duong, Dong Thap and so on with a liberal style using local kinds of tree, which are as rustic as their owners.

After the Complex of Hue Monuments was recognized as the cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO, many constructions have been restored. Besides enjoying the beauties of royal palaces, visitors to Hue, Hue local people and Hue researchers wish to explore the famous royal gardens that have been existing in poems and paintings of the ancient capital where the properly traditional Vietnamese quintessence on decorative tree planting gathers.

   Due to the impact of time, natural catastrophe and human, almost all royal gardens in Hue were destroyed; only some vestiges were found such as the gate, wall, rockery, old tree, and so on. Many gardens have been deserted that severely influence the tourist environment. Considering the landscape environment as one of the three core aspects, recently Hue Monuments Conservation Centre has paid much concern on restoration of Hue relics and landscapes. In 2012, to serve Festival 2000 and to prepare for the restoration and preservation of royal gardens, Hue Monuments Conservation Centre had Co Ha royal garden restored, which could afford to gain practical results and attract the concern as well as great agreement of the society. No longer is it a deserted garden with grass, snake and centipede where no tourist dared to enter. It is now used for feeding elephant and horse. The initial restoration with modest budget helped considerably improve the beauty of the garden, drive away the isolation, and let it become a place for the decorative tree exhibition as well as organizing the music romantic and poetic performances. For this reason, the Hue decorative tree exhibition and other performancesat the area attract many audiences.

To have such achievements, we must spend lots of time in finding appropriate ideas to design the garden that must be close to how it originally used to be so that tourists could, to some extents, imagine the aspect of this well-known royal garden with such popular landscapes as Tho An, Minh Giam lake, Phuoc Duyen cave, Quang Bieu pavilion, Nhat Than verandah, Minh Ly library, Tai Vu canal, Thuy Lien pond, and so forth.

The combination between poetic space and the decorative trees and colorful flowers results in the vividness for the royal royal garden. The exhibition has attracted many typical artisans with deep understanding and craftsmanship on the decorative tree planting of Hue as well as Hue orchids. Every artisan tries to introduce to the public the new knowledge on the decorative tree planting that beautifies the garden day by day.

Co Ha Garden, Photo: Y Nhi

            The landscape restoration and Co Ha royal garden rehabilitation were both carefully researched basing on different kinds of document. The restoration obeyed the authenticity and did not influence the bases of any remaining constructions of the garden. By flexibly applying aesthetic techniques, landscape arrangement, and so forth it could afford to be a a nice space harmoniously connecting among the natural scenery, relics and the surrounding. The trees and flowers used in creating landscape must be carefully selected so that the royal garden could meet the unique and typical aesthetic standard. The material must be appropriately natural.

To enhance the achievements during the past years, in 2014, Hue Monuments Conservation Centre continues to restore the remaining deserted surfaces of the garden so as to serve Festival 2014.  Besides, Hue Monuments Conservation Centre will carry out the exhibitions on flowers and decorative trees of the three regions around Vietnam.

The exhibition on flowers and decorative trees of three Vietnamese regions during Festival Hue 2014 will gather the most special trees and flowers nationwide in co Ha royal garden. Tourists will have chances to enjoy the abundance in the typical decorative tree planting around the country. The existence of these trees and flowers make the garden be royally magnificent.

With this exhibition, Hue Monuments Conservation Centre collects the idea reflected by the artisans, researchers as well as experts in landscape designing to gradually form satisfactory solutions for the royal garden preservation and restoration in the coming time. In addition, it would be a chance for artisans around the country to share their professional knowledge and skill; and staff of Hue Monuments Conservation Centre to directly learn experiences as well as enhance their vocational skills.

Co Ha Garden, Photo: Y Nhi

Co Ha garden has been changed step by step to reach the perfectness.  The landscape embellishment can manage to partly reveal the original beauty of a famous Hue royal garden of a time. Co Ha garden becomes an attractive destination and enriches Hue tourist product. It is hoped that Co Ha garden will be a good place gathering special decorative trees around the country so that tourists may feel the elegant entertainment of emperors in the past.

Dr. Le Cong Son/Translated by Y Nhi