Ms. Thao and her garden.

20-year-old dream

Ms. Nguyen Phuong Thao, 54, spent her childhood in the ancient capital city of Hue, Vietnam. She now lives and works in Budapest, Hungary.

Leaving her homeland, she brought her love for plants to Hungary. Over the past 30 years, Thao has invested her heart and soul into building her house, with a beautiful flower garden in this country.

According to Thao, her house was designed based on “Hue style, with the appearance of the Hue Citadel.” She named the house “Viet House”. Inside, she displays items familiar with the daily life of Vietnamese that she collected and brought from Vietnam.

Her garden filled with roses can be seen on many social networking sites. The garden is not only the result of her passion for growing flowers and plants from a young age, but it is the place where she can remember her homeland and introduce Vietnamese vegetables to her neighbors.

The house is built according to Vietnamese style, where Thao displays collectibles brought back from her homeland.

Unexpectedly, after being built, the house attracted the attention of many of her foreign friends. Here, they can learn more about the country and Vietnamese people. 

Thao has regularly organized anniversaries of Vietnam such as Vietnam Day at her house. On this day, she tried to recreate the image of her hometown by cooking Vietnamese dishes and introducing her hometown's specialties to her friends.

As a "kitchen lover", whenever she has time, Thao also offered courses on how to cook Vietnamese dishes. “These courses are opened at the request of my Hungarian friends who love Vietnamese food, especially pho," she said.

Spreading love for Vietnamese vegetables in Hungary 

Ms. Thao introduces delicious Vietnamese food to her foreign friends.

In 2020, when the pandemic began to spread, Thao was forced to stay at home. To ease nostalgia for her homeland, she decided to spread the joy of growing plants and vegetables, especially Vietnamese vegetables, to those around her in Hungary.

She went to a small province, over 200 kilometers from Budapest, to rent land and grow Vietnamese vegetables. After that, she improved the land in Budapest to grow fruits and vegetables such as spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, gourds, and melons.

“I previously introduced dishes made from Vietnamese vegetables to foreign friends. So when I have a vegetable garden, it is easier for me to provide vegetables for them to cook Vietnamese dishes. They come to my garden to pick vegetables and cook. The money I earn from vegetables is very modest, but I’m happy to introduce my friends to Vietnamese vegetables and plants," Thao said.

Her love for plants spreads to the people living around her. Seeing that she planted a garden of green trees and fruits, many local people also began to study and cultivate their own gardens.

Ms. Thao’s Vietnamese vegetable garden in Budapest attracts locals, especially children.

Those who do not have enough space and time come to her garden to be immersed in her flowers and plants. Parents also often bring their children to her garden to learn about vegetables and fruit trees.

“My garden is now the joy of many people, especially Vietnamese and foreign children living in Budapest. Every day, people often come to the garden to practice being a farmer and get acquainted with the trees. I think the best way to take care of our health is to immerse yourself in nature. I hope through this, there will be more and more people who love flowers and plants. I also hope that with the help of the garden, international friends will know more about Vietnamese fruits and people," said Thao.

Ha Nguyen