In the 50 m2 garden of painter Bui Dinh Thanh Hai, more than 300 pots of grass named bodhi jelly create a green space.
“I happened to know about the bone jelly through a foreign video channel, I find it beautiful and suitable for the tea table as well as the desk, so I should learn and collect it,” said the artist born in 1990 living in Ho Chi Minh City.
Anh Hai is one of the young Vietnamese who are passionate about playing bone jelly. On social networks, the group of people who play jelly bones like him attracts nearly 10,000 members, even though it has just been established since 2020.
See the image of the bony jelly garden by artist Bui Dinh Thanh Hai.
Chickweed has a scientific name Acorus gramineus, is a perennial grass, green all year round, long slender blade-shaped leaves, rhizomes consisting of many nodes and contains essential oils with certain medicinal properties. When impacted (trimmed), they give off a mild cinnamon-like aroma. Depending on the type of jelly, the color, amount of essential oil and aroma of the leaves are different.
Mr. Lai Phuoc Long, a long-time grower of locust jelly in Hue, said that in the world, there are nearly 20 types of bovine jelly in the world. Vietnam also has 6-7 species, distributed in the Northern provinces, Hoang Lien Son range, rivers (streams) in the central provinces and the Central Highlands.
The petite jellyfish has appeared in many Asian countries such as China, Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam. In Asian culture, bone marrow jelly is said to be a kind of spiritual herb that can prevent disease and exorcise. Bonsai along with orchids, chrysanthemums, and daffodils are honored as “four elegant flowers”. In the past, this herb used to attract both the royal family and the scholar and writer. Gradually, they became decorations in the forest, the study room.
According to Mr. Long, the hobby of playing bone jelly was once popular in Vietnam during the reign of King Minh Mang, but then disappeared. In the past two years, many people have paid attention to and restored this hobby. In particular, due to Covid-19, many people come to cactus jelly because they have a need to be close to nature, but it has advantages such as being compact, easy to decorate both indoors and out in the garden.
In Hanoi, Do Tuan Anh is also a member of a group that plays bony jelly. The 32-year-old architect currently has nearly 30 large and small pots, belonging to six types. “The healthy domesticated plants are displayed in the living room, on the tea table and on the desk. The rest I put on the balcony”, Mr. Tuan Anh shared.
“If you want to have a pot like that, you have to use a lot of mind,” painter Hai said, adding that he had damaged many bony jellies due to inexperience.
How to grow agar jelly depends on each person’s preferences, there are basically three ways: potted, stone (planted on rocks), stone mixed with other mini plants (such as bamboo, mini bonsai, centella asiatica). The criterion is to make the layout harmonious, balanced and natural.
Regarding the living conditions of the tree, Mr. Hai said that the bougainvillea prefers a cool place with light, porous soil that is easy to drain, and a clean water source. Growers need to regularly pull out old wilted leaves, with thick perennial pots, cut all the leaves close to the base so that the new leaves are more beautiful and rounder. The stone potted bone agar needs to be changed in the tray every two to three days to avoid root rot. When watering, it should be watered thoroughly because the jelly is very fond of water.
In Vietnam, most of the jelly is imported from China, the price ranges from 60,000 VND to 550,000 VND per tree, depending on the variety and age.
Despite its rustic appearance and not cheap price, bone jelly still attracts players because in addition to decorating the living space, it brings many cultural and spiritual values.
“Thanks to the fragrance emanating from the jelly, I relieve stress. Taking care of and pruning trees helps me practice perseverance and patience”, Mr. Tuan Anh expressed.
For painter Hai, the bone jelly also became an inspiration for painting. “Bubble jelly can be combined with the tea ceremony, and the picture can be hung in the tea room. Just looking at the real tree and looking at the picture is even more interesting,” he said.