}

May 22, 2011

Thinking ahead, the Himalaya? Maybe.

Primula denticulata
ANDROSACE STUDIOSORUM GROWING IN A ROUND ALPINE TROUGH ON THE DECK
I've been thinking seriously exploring part of northern India and NW Tibet next year, particularly the  Himalaya, in July next year ( if everything plays out here). These sort of trips take time to plant, and these plans take time since they are not of a commercial nature, but a plant exploration trip to a visit India, the north western Himalaya and borderlands of western Tibet, is what I am thinking about I do not go botanizing in Patagonia this November as I was also planning. Given Margaret's condition, this seems to make the most sense to me. I feel that I should go and take advantage of such trips before I am too old ( frankly, it's a reality, isn't it?) and when I can't handle high elevation atmosphere as well. Trips to the Himalaya require excellent health and some training, but little can prepare you for altitude sickness, as those of us who have read any book about climbing Everist, know.

This had me looking around my garden, to see what I have from the Himalaya. Many ornamental plants hail from China, Japan, Korea and Tibet, but few of us ever think about what comes from where. Today, while Margaret was sleeping, I took a quick walk around the garden at dusk, just after the world was supposed to end, to see what I had blooming after this very long, damp, wet week of cold rain. The first plant I saw, was an alpine, Androsace studiosorum, a high elevation alpine plant from the mountains of Pakistan where it blooms in meadows and screes just below snowmelt. Look closely, and you can see a flower that looks not unlike a primrose, and indeed, Androsace is in the primula family, Primulaceae.

This species is one of the many Androsace ( an-droh-sah-see) that are mid-tier mountain plants, for many at the highest elevations grow as buns or dense mounds in the clouds, these mid-tier species grow more like sempervivum, or house-leeks, you know, the hens and chickens that we all still grow in some dry spot in our garden. Sending out runners just after flowering, each rosette forms at the end of a runner, and remains rootless until the following year, which makes it a little challenging to transplant, but ever so easy to grow.
I guess I could include some of my Pleione orchids, a bulbous high elevation cloud forest orchid on my list of Himalayan plants.



You saw this odd plant a few weeks ago, when it was a curious knob emerging....well, it has only become curious-er. The naughty-looking bracts on the floral stems of this Tibetan Rhubarb are, well, entertaining on evening walks like this, with a glass of wine ( and maybe a cigarette).

THE ENTIRE PLANT IS MORE ATTRACTIVE. NOT AN EDIzBLE RHUBARB, IT IS NOT POISONOUS, JUST FUZZY AND TOUGH. THIS SPECIES IS GROWN FOR ITS TROPICAL LOOKING FOLIAGE, BUT IN TIBET, CULTURALLY IT HAS MEDICINAL USES.

2 comments :

  1. I have come across that primrose in Sikkim and in Himachal Pradesh, both Indian states in the Himalayas. I wish you success and enjoyment in your travel in the Himalayas

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  2. You know, I was reading 7 year's in Tibet and it felt like it was taking about 14 years to read. My interest in Tibet wavered until I adopted a Lhasa Apso.(bred as sacred Tibetan monk watch dogs) Now I want to go so badly! The plant life is amazing!

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