Saturday, 31 May 2014


Alas, my tour schedule and finalizing everything related to the book finally clashed and I won't have time to review the final proofs until I return from a tour to NW India in mid-July. The first lot of proofs were wonderful overall with just a few tweaks here and there and whilst I don't expect anything major to be wrong with the next batch we all felt - that is the publishers, Basak and I - to rush things at this crucial stage was pointless for the sake of a month or so. There are still some little refinements for Basak to work on too and the upshot is the book won't reach the shelves until the middle of October rather than early September as was planned - although perfect timing for Christmas shopping! I know I said May in my last post but various delays and the fact that the books have to come from China, meant August was actually the earliest we could have hoped for in the end. We also got to see the jacket design and the people at IB Tauris have done a superb job, combining stunning displays of gentians, crocuses and irises - but I can't say which or reveal the design yet.

However, every cloud has the proverbial silver-lining. For a while we had accepted it isn't possible to include every amazing flower from the Silk Road in our 540 species and we felt it didn't want for much if anything as it stood (Iris korolkowii and Ostrowskia magnifica would have been nice but alas no).  However, there was one more persistent niggle and the only flowers in the book we felt we hadn't done justice to were the west Asian lilies - especially the Turkish ones.  I'd missed out on Lilium polyphyllum in India last year when new building work had erased the location, Lilium ledbourii from Iran was never really on the travelling agenda and most significantly we never had the chance to be in the north-east of Turkey at the right season. This is set to change in late-June when we are undertaking a research trip for a tour in 2015 for the Lily Society/Mediterranean Garden Society to see the Turkish lilies.  This will give me the chance to photograph five species of these stunning flowers and given the nature of the digital age it also means I can include some last-minute, stop press images for the book. Lilium akkusianum is the species I most want to include, a localised endemic and the loveliest of the showy trumpet lilies in Turkey.  Lilium ciliatum is also on the agenda and fingers crossed if I get decent weather and good plants then these two will feature in the book - the cherry on the cake.  Below are images of Lilium ponticum one Turkish species I have seen with rich yellow and purple flowers and there's also Lilium duchartrei from Gansu, which has more than a passing resemblance to Lilium ledebourii cited above.

Lilium ponticum

Lilium ledbourii