Wednesday, 27 April 2011


What a superb trip this turned out to be!  Despite the financial worries of laying out for the trip it delivered with a stunning array of early season flowers.  I began in Dushanbe capital of Tajikistan arriving at the hideously early hour of 3am followed by very slow immigration, but once through I got a couple of hours sleep and then I was on the road with my team from Pamir Travel Company (who looked after me very well while I was there) driving into the snowy Zerashan Mountains where over the course of five days I managed to ace all of the flowers I'd hoped for, beginning with Iris vicaria and Bellevallia atroviolacea, then the gorgeous Iris rosenbachiana, big Fritillaria eduardii and the unbelievably refined Corydalis popovii.  Then there was the valley of five million (I kid you not) Iris bucharica that stretched for ten kilometres across both slopes of a valley.  The landscape was stunning too with plunging knife-edged ridges and row upon row of peaks and everything culminated in a simply dazzling display of Crocus korolkovii with maybe fifty thousand golden flowers spread across the bare ground, too dense to tread among and a fabulous mountain backdrop. 

Numerous passport checks but ultimately no problems saw me cross the border into Uzbekistan and meeting up with the people from Advantour (excellent service again) and drove onto Shakrisabz seeing Tulipa micheliana on the way.  The next day I explored the Amankutan Pass and what a place this was, beginning with the big Iris magnifica and followed by the iris I most wanted to see Iris warleyensis – wow, what a flower.  There were masses of snowmelt species too with some great corydalis, Primula fedtschenkoi and Colchicum kesselringianum.  Naturally I spent some time looking around the beautiful blue tiled mosques in Samarkand but then it was back to the flora and a journey north to Chimgan near Tashkent.  I had a reliable (and patient) mountain guide there called Vasily and during our two days walking in the hills we found big populations of Fritillaria severzovii, Fritillaria stenanthera, Tulipa kaufmanniana, the varied hot colours of Tulipa tschimganica, oceans of Tulipa turkestanica and the golden Colchicum luteum  in abundance.  Everywhere were masses of Corydalis ledebouriana and Gymnospermium albertii, whilst in the limestone scree we found Corydalis darvasica and by snow melt the black-speckled ivory-white Crocus alatavicus.  The last flower of the trip was a colony of Iris orchidoides on a steep scree slope and by then I was out of memory but I had more than enough material.

Choosing what pics to post was tricky but here are ten of my favourites most of which should make the book;

Iris bucharica

Apricot blossom and poplars 

Corydalis popovii

Crocus korolkovii

Fritillaria eduardii

Blue Mosque, Shakrisabz

Primula fedtschenkoi

Crocus alatavicus
Iris warleyensis 

Tulipa tschimganica

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