Tiny Herbacious Flowers

Flowers on rau ram (laksa leaf / Vietnamese mint), Brisbane, May 2010 (Canon G11).

When I was a little girl, my father allowed me a patch in the garden to do with as I pleased.  The patch was outside my bedroom window and nearby my mother’s patch, wherein she was allowed to plant flowers and other non-edible plants.  My father always shook his head, mystified as to why my mother and I even bothered spending time in our useless patch of garden.

My patch was filled with an old-sink pond, from which I would scoop out and murder mosquito larvae, while eyeballing frogspawn to ascertain whether it was, indeed, frogspawn, or whether it was (more likely but horror of horrors) cane toad spawn.  Ringing the “pond”, were a myriad of spider plants and bromeliads, easy to grow and fast proliferating plants.  Then, as now, I was a somewhat impatient gardener.

Now my “pond” has been filled in with dirt and my patch of useless, purely decorative garden is filled with rau ram, also known as laksa leaf or Vietnamese mint.  My father’s garden has such an abundance of herbs, it does not matter if some go to seed, like this one is doing.  I like to think Ba has mellowed in his old age and enjoys a little decoration in his garden; though I suspect the truth is: he hasn’t noticed yet.  I noticed and photographed, but I did not pluck the flowers off, like I know he will when he does notice.

Aren’t they lovely? Like miniature gladioli – my mother’s favourite flowers.

The spider plants are still there.  My father probably can’t rid them entirely as they, like mint, have underground, tenacious runners.  They’ll pop out randomly on the lawn and I can just imagine my father’s exasperation at seeing them.  I hope they remind him of me.



  1. They are darling little flowers, Oanh. I love this herb though I’ve tried and not succeeded in growing it here in So Cal. Ga xe bop just isn’t the same without rau ram!

    Your dad is like my aunt who grows mainly edibles. In fact, though she has a prolific and healthy fig tree, she’s going to yank it out because (of her family) she’s the only one who eats from it (unless she brings it to her extended family).


    1. Yes, my father is brutal with plants – if it’s not productive and you cannot eat it, it goes!

      Interesting – rau ram grows really well over in the UK but needs to be kept inside during winter (although I managed to kill mine due to inattention and too many weekends away over winter, though the cuttings I gave to a friend are thriving). So Cal must be too dry for it?


    1. Thanks, Suzanne. I think rau ram / laksa leaf is pretty obscure unless one is Vietnamese; it’s common in Viet cuisine and (as its English name suggests) also used in laksa (a Malaysian noodle soup dish). I don’t know how widespread its usage is outside of these two areas but I do not claim to be knowledgeable about that sort of stuff (or indeed much at all)!


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