|A Vietnamese Garden
|Chat V. Dang, Anthony H. Tran
In historical palaces and private estates across the world, a magnificent garden is the proud symbol of civilization and wealth. More down
to earth, a garden is a plot of land by the family's home cultivated with flowers, vegetables or fruits for enjoyment and nutrition. A garden
may incorporate rocks, ponds and streams for relaxation and meditation. Fittingly, an English garden or a Japanese garden brings up colorful
and picturesque images in the minds of tourists and plant lovers. Who has heard of a Vietnamese garden? I was asked that intriguing
question just after our group of friends had toured the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. With unguarded
spontaneity, I replied "I guess we don't really have a typical Vietnamese garden." Then, realizing the full impact of the subject, I attempted
to involve my colleagues. "We've just seen the Japanese Garden and the recently inaugurated Chinese Garden. What if there were enough
donations to design and build a Vietnamese Garden at the Huntington Library? What should it look like?" Several suggestions came up right
away but were quickly dismissed as "too Chinese." We then agreed that a typical Vietnamese garden, despite Vietnam's pride in its 4000-year
civilization, is more practical then decorative, cultural or philosophic: an orchard of tropical fruit trees and a small plot of kitchen
herbs. For lack of further interest, our conversation switched to Tibet, the Beijing Olympics and the US presidential campaign...
Subconsciously perturbed by the matter, I got out of bed early, maybe too early. Complex ideas and colorful images were bumping each other in
my foggy mind. I booted up my computer to jot down my thoughts. The glare of the LCD screen completely woke me up. My scientific formation
took over, and I started to organize the description of a Vietnamese Garden. The public would enjoy garden vistas and learn about the culture
and flora of Vietnam. Well-known Vietnamese culture icons and recollections from my pre-1975 years shape the representation. Of course,
selected trees and flowers should be able to acclimate to local conditions. While I was writing, I wished that my vision would advance the
concept of a fund to construct and maintain a Vietnamese Garden in Southern California, Texas and/or Florida where the climate is warmer,
close to that of Saigon. I wished that it would offer food for thought for successful, philanthropic entrepreneurs and earn their financial
support. I wished that it would serve as a canvas on which ideas could be weaved on. I wished that I could pull together a group of
experienced and dedicated people to form a steering planning committee...
| Please read the rest of the story in THE WOMEN OF VIETNAM.