Saturday, 29 January 2011


[Before we start – you must have noticed the text in the trial spreads is in latin? This is just to gauge the appearance of the spread, Chris’s is still writing the real version and we’ll update when they’re ready.]

We’ve got most of the pics we need, but there are always a few loose ends and annoying these are strung out across Asia.  There are some superb species we’ve got to try and include and luckily a lot of them are here in Turkey.  In March we’re going to track down the stunning Iris galatica and Iris danfordiae, maybe even Iris sprengeri if we can find an early one.  Iris galatica is a stunner, easily the match of any of the taller Central Asian species and there are plenty of locations in central Anatolia around Nigde.  After the irises there’s Fritillaria alburyana on Kop Dag and Fritillaria latifolia would be good, although the best population we know of is on the Cam Gecidi near Ardahan.  Closer to home we’ll be tracking down Campanula macrostyla and the bizarre Biarum ditschianum both in the Fethiye direction.  In May we’re going to find Iris gatesii near Siirt before our Van trip.  Basak also has a tour to the north-east in summer so she should find a few Euxine goodies there such as Pedicularis atropurpurea.  At least that’s the plan so here’s the Turkish hit-list which we’ll be crossing off as we find them and posting the pics.  Essentials are in bold;

Aquilegia olympica
Arnebia pulchra
Asyneuma compacta
Bellevalia forniculata
Biarum ditschianum
Campanula choruhensis
Campanula macrostyla
Corydalis caucasica
Corydalis henrikkii
Corydalis integra
Cyclamen coum
Dianthus crinitus
Digitalis davisiana
Fritillaria alburyana
Fritillaria latifolia
Fritillaria sibthorpiana
Fritillaria sororum
Galanthus plicatus
Iris danfordiae
Iris galatica
Iris gatesii
Iris sprengeri
Lilium ciliatum
Lilium monodelphum
Muscari anatolica
Muscari discolor
Nectaroscordum siculum
Onosma orientale
Pedicularis atropurpurea
Pedicularis condensata
Primula longipes
Rhododendron luteum
Rhododendron ponticum
Sternbergia candida

And what about the rest of Asia?  Well Central Asia needs a bit of work and there are a few tulips down there with our name on.  We’ve done well in China of late but ideally still need a couple of decent Saussurea and Rheum nobile for which we have a locations so they should be in the bag in June/July when we go on our respective Yunnan and Sichuan tours. The only other target we have in China is Crawfurdia campanulacea an amazing climbing gentian, but we always seem to be too early for it in mid-September when we take the autumn Yunnan tour.  Also Chris will be checking out another part of China or Sikkim after Yunnan but not sure where yet, should know soon, maybe Xinghai and northern Gansu or southern Tibet all pretty far out places or even Sikkim in summer.  In the meantime here are shots of Eryngium giganteum and Astrantia maxima both fantastic architectural species taken in the KaƧkar late last July;

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


A celebration of the finest mountain flowers that lay along the fabled Silk Road beginning in Istanbul, Turkey and passing through Iran to Central Asia from where we continue the journey south to the fabled Shangri-La to include the plants of western China and the eastern Himalaya, drawing together the extraordinary flora found in the most spectacular mountains on Earth.  It is the culmination of twelve years travelling around Asia visiting diverse countries and their landscapes, cultures and of course flowers from bulb fields in Turkey to blue poppies in Sichuan or black irises in Jordan to ravishing slipper orchids in Yunnan, tulips in the Tien Shan to dionysia in the Iranian Zagros. 

It is a personal compilation intended as an introduction to the world’s greatest treasure trove of flowers and the book structure follows a botanical route through the flowering plant kingdom rather than a geographical one, showcasing it family by family selecting the loveliest, most outstanding or colourful genera and species.  The objective is to inspire and not to catalogue and the book will contain the key floral elements of this huge region, providing an overview of what is where and when.

The Silk Road itself is a loose concept and was certainly never a single road instead branches diverted into different corners of the Asian continent and the book too wanders here and there to nearby botanical spots, whilst still heading in the same general direction from Turkey to China and the Himalayas the mythical realm of Shangri-La.  The pictures used are jointly the fortuitous product of professional tour leading for Greentours Natural History Holidays to the areas featured as well as many private trips to this remarkable botanical world.  

To offer a taster of what is to come by (hopefully) the end of 2011 here are six spreads from the book;