With only less than three weeks to go to the Tet holiday, gardeners in Hanoi's Nhat Tan and Phu Thuong flower villages are doing the final pruning on their peach blossom trees as this year's favourable weather conditions have ensured blossoms at just the right time.

"The weather so far this year has been much better than last year, more humid, slightly more rain and less sunshine," said 55-year-old Do Thi Mai, who has been growing peach blossom trees in Phu Thuong Village, Tay Ho District for the past 15 years.

Phu Thuong is just one of the capital's flower villages that has been affected by urbanisation and the construction of new villas and urban areas. Years ago, there were thousands of households growing peach blossom trees, according to many elders. Now, that number has dwindled significantly.

Despite the changes, there are still households that depend on growing peach blossom trees for their entire year's income, such as Mai whose garden covers more than 2,000 square meters.

At this time last year, her flowers did not fully blossom even as Tet was approaching due to the colder weather, she says, but this year's weather is facilitating "the right amount" of blossoms.

In November, the gardeners started pruning their trees to encourage more buds. From now until tree sales begin, which is usually after December 15 on the lunar calendar, they also cut out withered early blossoms to spur fresh growth.

Most believe prices can be higher than last year due to rising input costs and the higher salaries for temporary labourers. However, while most gardeners are forecasting a booming season, they also said that it can be much harder to sell and rent out trees that fall in the higher price range.

Nguyen Van Duong, another grower in Phu Thuong Village, expects prices to increase by about 5-10 percent over last year. "The flowers this year are definitely better looking," he says. "Since the prices for everything is increasing, we think the price for peach blossom trees will also increase but not by too much."

In Nhat Tan Village, Nguyen Van Chien's garden boasts thousands of peach blossom trees, some of which have been growing for nearly a dozen years.

"This kind of cold weather, 14-18 degrees Celsius, is perfect. The flowers will maintain their deep pink colour. Without the cold weather, the colour of the flowers could turn insipid due to greater exposure to the sunshine," Chien says.

He says even with higher input costs, the prices of most trees in his garden will be in the 7-9 million VND (330-430 USD) range, with the highest coming in at around 14 million VNA(670 USD).

Nguyen Quoc Hoa, another Nhat Tan tree farmer, also predicts an increase in prices. His clientele is primarily made up of long-time customers. Hoa notes that for farmers in the business, it is not necessary to sell their entire crop since they will keep some roots to grow new trees which will be ready to sell or rent out in another two or three years.

"Two years ago, the period leading up to Tet was as hot as summer and last year it was quite cold, which prevented the flowers from blooming," he says. "With this weather and the longer Tet holiday, we're expecting a great season."/.