Thursday, 2 April 2009

Thousand year Thang Long and Hanoi plants

Thang Long-Hanoi is grouped as one of the oldest capitals in the world. Since An Duong Vuong established the capital here until present, Hanoi has been undergoing 24 centuries of history. The most important landmark is when Ly Thai To moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Dai La and renamed it Thang Long (Ascending Dragon).

After 10 centuries of development, many castles, citadel, royal gardens have been constructed. This is the convergent place of various plants from the river delta, which evolved from the local and Chinese wild plants and the cereal plants.

As a the capital, Thang Long became a complete city with big and small gates leading to bustling markets from the central citadel. There are a variety of weird plants and flowers collected from across Vietnam and neighbouring countries in the Imperial City and the Forbidden City.

In 1882, the French invaded Hanoi (Thang Long's name given by emperor Minh Mang). They destroyed the city of Thang Long and rebuilt Hanoi in the Western style. In planning Hanoi as the capital of French Indochina, the French renovated the Sword Lake surroundings based on manufacturing and trading streets like Hang Bong, Hang Dao, Hang Trong, Hang Gai, Hang Thung, Hang Thiec. They then constructed the Western quarter around the West Lake.

The then urban planners selected trees from Vietnam's tropical forests as shade trees for square streets. At the same time, they imported common plants in South-East Asia such as the tropical almond tree and many beautiful species of flowers from Africa and South America to decorate Hanoi streets. These plants has now become the symbols of many streets and residence areas.

Besides the authority set up the Botanical Garden as a place to cultivate and collect plants from across the country and other continents and the popularised these plants in many parts of the country. The number of plants in Hanoi was increasingly diverse. Many green areas in the city play the roles as lungs balancing the ecology in densely populated areas.

After the capital Hanoi was liberated in 1954, Hanoi residents began building up a new peaceful life. Trees were planted in many new areas in the city. The striking landmark is the construction of Thong Nhat Park, renovation of Co Ngu Street (now Thanh Nien Street) dividing two large lakes. Those days seen the tireless work Hanoi residents, especially students. Many new parks and green areas were also built.

During the American War, Hanoi was always covered with green trees and beautiful flowers despite American destruction. Trees were still increasingly planted along many streets.

An important event in the last years of the American War is the construction of President Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum. At this time, plants from across the north are brought here to decorate the Ba Dinh Historical Vestiges. There were so many plants and flowers that it was decided to set up a management board of trees. Later when the south was liberated, the number of trees increased, which makes Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum really a botanical garden.

In the new are of economic development and international integration, various plants have been imported to enrich Hanoi's flora.

The expansion of Hanoi (now including Ha Tay province, Me Linh district) makes this flora even more diverse. The statistics of trees in greater Hanoi would be a great scientific work.

In the occastion of the Great Anniverary of Thang Long, it is a must to produce detailed statistics of Hanoi flora. A book on Thang Long-Hanoi plants will be a great contribution to celebrating the thousand-year capital.

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