Saturday, 7 May 2011


For some years I’ve led tours around Turkey - the world’s premier temperate bulb paradise - visiting the south-west, central, north-east and east, but one area had always missed out the north-west.  Admittedly it lacks some of the scenic splendour of other areas, but forest clothed mountains of Uludag, Bolu and Boz Dag as well as the silvery placid waters of Lake Abant are all worthy of a look.  This corner of Turkey is also home to some its finest massed bulb displays especially around Bolu where there exist spectacular carpets of flowers in spring.  Uludag had some wonderful drifts of golden Crocus gargaricus (mixed with chrysanthus) and the varied lilac shades of lovely Crocus biflorus pulchricolor, the latter of which is on the surface at least identical to Crocus abantensis (there are obvious bulb tunic differences below ground…but…) that was abundant above Lake Abant.  The areas around Bolu were smothered in flowers with countless Cyclamen coum, thousands of Corydalis integra, primroses, streamsides studded with broad-leaved Galanthus plicatus byzantinus, swampy areas with the striking bottle-brushes of Petasites hybridus and big stands of lentern rose Helleborus orientalis.  I had previously visited the Bolu area in May and at this time there are sensational carpets of Muscari aucheri and orchids a plenty such as Orchis pallens on show, so at least two visits are needed.

I also tracked down four other specials; the pretty bicolored Iris attica growing on areas of limestone scrub, the pretty pink sibthorpii form of Primula vulgaris tucked among the dense beech forests of Uludag and the endemic and delicate Fritillaria fleischeriana on the sticky red soils that give so much colour to the central hills.  Not far from these was Muscari adilii, named after my father-in-law Professor Adil Guner.  I wanted to make the pilgrimage to see the flower in the wild marly hills near Beypazari and the flower itself was really rather fine, especially set among its’ austere surroundings.  All in all this 'forgotten' region of the country is a very rewarding and distinctive place to spend some time and not only for the flowers, Bursa is the original home of the delicious Iskender Kebap, there are some gorgeous old Ottoman houses on show in some of the towns and villages and some excellent birding to be had with Black Vultures, Bullfinches and Pygmy Cormorants all on show.

Crocus biflorus pulchricolor

Cyclamen coum

Crocus gargaricus

Muscari adilii

Fritillaria fleischeriana

Iris attica

Beech forest

Wooden house at Yazica

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