Memorial Himalayan Garden

Following the re-start of the Himalayan Plant Association in 2016, it is time to restore the KOHLI MEMORIAL HIMALAYAN GARDEN - which operated as the world's smallest botanical garden for a period of some 20 years from the early 1990s, housed within the garden of a modest semi-detached house (built in the early 1960s) on the outskirts of Slough (not far from Heathrow and Windsor)!  Ultimately, the intention is to make it into an accessible, albeit very small, display garden on behalf of the Himalayan Plant Association and as a reference source for genuine Himalayan material.  This will enable photographs and pressed specimens to be taken to enhance Chris Chadwell's REFERENCE collection of HIMALAYAN FLORA helping IMPROVE the reliability of IDENTIFICATION of species in the Himalaya and our gardens) - setting an example for others, including large botanic gardens, to follow.  Unless plants are ACCURATELY and RELIABLY identified, whether in the wild or cultivation it is IMPOSSIBLE to conserve them!  As things currently stand, a significant proportion of plants in the Himalaya and 'Himalayan' specimens in cultivation are misidentified.

17th January 2018 - Ring-necked Parakeets!

Ring-necked Parakeets in a neighbour's garden enjoying the bird-feeders on an apple tree.

Ring-necked Parakeets in a neighbour's garden enjoying the bird-feeders on an apple tree.

I first noticed 'Ring-necked Parakeets' flying over the Kohli Memorial Himalayan garden decades ago but this is the first time they were spotted both in my neighbour's garden and up to 10 perched on the CELTIS AUSTRALIS tree - perhaps they felt at home as this bird (Psittacula krameri) occurs in the wild in Northern India up to the Himalayan foothills.  Their call reminds me of visits to the home of Deepak Badwhar (a grandson of P,.N. Kohli), where sat in his garden, a common bird call was from these parrots.  They are the most abundant and well-known Parakeet in the Indian subcontinent, found in light woodland, parks, gardens and cultivated areas; it is a pest of some importance, as the noisy flocks do much damage to crops and fruit.

There is much speculation as to how they first escaped into the wild in the UK.  Only in recent decades have the started to breed.  At one time they were restricted to locations around London, commonly seen at the top of tall Lombardy Poplar trees at sports grounds, particularly rugby clubs. They now number tens of thousands and legitimate concerns are arising about their potential to damage crops in the UK.  Strangely enough, when Deepak, a serious birder (see previous paragraph) and his family came to the UK a few years back to view plants in this garden, he immediately recognised the parakeets flying above, much to his amusement.

12th January 2018 - hips of Himalayan Musk Rose

Fruits (hips) of ROSA BRUNONII in the front section of the garden.

Fruits (hips) of ROSA BRUNONII in the front section of the garden.

The fruits of the 'Himalayan Musk Rose' are globular to ovoid-shaped; there is a form in the rear section of the garden which has more globular, orange to red coloured.  Those above a red, ovoid.  This stout climber has terminal clusters of many fragrant white flowers (in June in this garden). It can reach metres 'climbing' up shrubs and on walls - so be careful to plant in a suitable spot, though one can prune back hard if it gets out-of-hand.

23rd August 2017 - confusion over identification of seed from Berlin Botanic Garden

ALLIUM  TUBEROSUM (Reference: 3039) - young seedlings.

I consider it is important to state that of all the index semina I have obtained seed from over a period of some 30 years, Berlin is one of the best in terms of reliability of identification - as one would expect of a German Institution, especially one with a herbarium attached.  Nevertheless, in the interests of consistency of identification of plants in cultivation, I urge them to check if the names originally applied to the specimens grown in their botanic garden are up-to-date.  Much confusion is caused when seed is distributed using an older synonym or if the seed has been misidentified.  May I draw attention to the FINE EXAMPLE set by the Akureyri Botanic Garden, Iceland - in their Index Semina they indicate, when a specimen they grow turns out to have been misidentified, both the correct name and what it "arrived as/under".  This is especially helpful, as errors have often been repeated/replicated elsewhere, enabling others to check/keep an "eye open" for the same error.  ALL botanic gardens offering Index Semina should be encouraged to do this - and be aware of the need for it, as a significant proportion of plants in cultivation have been misidentified....

I requested rather late this summer, 14 packets of seed of Himalayan origin through the INDEX SEMINUM of Freie Universitat Berlin, Botanischer Garten u. Botanisches Museum, Dahlemer Saatgutbank, Konigin-Luise-Str. 6-8, 14195 Berlin, Germany.  These took some time to arrive, such that it the very start of August; the latest I had ever sowed seed before was early June and then only because I was so overwhelmed with tasks, which prevented me from sowing during my usual February to April period.  Given that the results of such late sowings have been satisfactory to quite good, I felt it was best to "have a go", despite advising that beyond early June it was advisable not to sow, rather than store the seed and wait until next spring.  I have long known that the vast majority of seed from plants originating in the Himalaya has no "chilling" requirement (at least once it has been stored dry at room temperature) but a typically hot & dry summer is not conducive to germination and presumably the seed can tell when conditions are not favourable.  However, it has not been a 'typical' summer in the south of England, with deluges of rain and cooler temperatures than one would expect during August.  These conditions have no doubt encouraged germination of several collections (6 within 2-3 weeks of sowing).  This is encouraging, so fingers crossed that a majority of those sown will appear shortly and build up to sufficient size to cope with the first winter.  An 'Indian Summer' would help - which often happens after a wet summer.  This is reflected in dry, sunny days, just as children are returning to school in the first week of September.  We shall see how these seedlings develop.  Some growers viewing these images might be surprised, even shocked at the thickness of sowing in the pots.  This is part of my "Clumping" method - with which I generally get considerable success.  I realise this is counter to conventional wisdom.  Those who join the Himalayan Plant Association can learn more are this and other aspects of cultivating Himalayan plants.

ALLIUM  TUBEROSUM (Reference: 3039) - a closer view; note the black empty seed-coats.

The seed of Allium tuberosum was originally supplied through the 'Garwhal Himalayan Plant Journal'.  But what exactly is this 'species'?  It was originally named as Allium tuberosum Rottler ex Spreng.  Stewart in his 'Annotated Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Pakistan & Kashmir' (1972) gives A.odorum Hk.f. non. L.; A.roxburghii Kunth and A.clarkei Hk.f.  He recorded this from Gilgit, Baltistan and Western Tibet, calling it the "shallot", apparently an old introduction which has been confused with A.odorum W.T.Stearn.  Wikipedia gives several common names: garlic chives, Oriental garlic, Asian chives, Chinese leek.  This reference sources describe it as a species of 'Onion' native to a south-western part of the Chinese province of Shanxi, cultivated and naturalised elsewhere in Asia and around the world.  It is not mentioned in 'Flowers of the Himalaya'.  Apparently, in Nepal cooks fry a curried vegetable dish of potatoes and A.tuberosum known as 'dunduko sag'.  We shall see how it gets on.  In some parts of the world it is considered an invasive, noxious weed....  A.tuberosum is not listed in 'Flora of Bhutan' (which covers Sikkim & Darjeeling).  Whereas the account of Allium compiled by W.T.Stearn for 'Enumeration of the Flowering Plants of Nepal' ( Vol. 1, 1978) lists A.tuberosum  giving A.sulvia Buch.-Ham ex D.Don as a synonym.  He gave a distribution of Himalaya, Assam and China; west & central Nepal @ 2300-2600m.

CORTIA  WALLICHIANA (Reference: 2480)

This introduction was originally collected on behalf of Berlin Botanic Garden (Ern 3411) at Ghoom, near Darjeeling, North-East India.  This member of what was the Umbelliferae family (now Apiaceae) is also not mentioned in 'Flowers of the Himalaya'. According to 'The Plant List' Cortia wallichiana (DC.) Leute is an unresolved name.  I did manage to grow this from a past allocation of seed from the same source, which regularly flowered, though never set seed, in a sunny and exposed spot in the front section of the garden here - probably not the ideal position given the high rainfall at Ghoom.  IF the plentiful supply of seedlings flourishes, I shall certainly try some in the shadier part of the back garden here.  I do recollect the finely dissected foliage.

There is no mention of C.wallichiana in 'Flora of Bhutan' (which covers Sikkim & Darjeeling) - the only species of this genus recorded is C.depressa.  Whereas, there is Selinum wallichianum (DC.) Raizadae & Saxena (syn. Selinum tenuifolium Clarke), which is recorded from the sort of habitat and places around Darjeeling that Ern 3411 was probably gathered from.  Please note M.F.Watson, the author of the account of Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) in 'Flora of Bhutan' rightly observes that Selinum is a complex genus where large ranges of variation in morphology have clouded specific limits.  The rather poor herbarium specimens on which early name have been based compound the problems.  He also, correctly states that the situation in Sikkim and the rest of the Sino-Himalayan region can only be provisional awaiting further work.  The situation in Bhutan has been greatly enlightened by detailed field observations and quality herbarium specimens of John Wood.  Unfortunately,  there has been minimal field work undertaken in the Indian Himalayan since Independence with the quality of pressed specimens and field notes leaving a lot to be desired.  Combined with a lack of International collaboration, the muddles which exist with taxonomically challenging genera remain....  Thus, at times, it is impossible to come up with a satisfactory identification.

CORTIA  WALLICHIANA (Reference: 2480) - a closer view of the cotyledons, which bear no resemblance to the true leaves.

17th April 2017

VIBURNUM  COTINIFOLIUM  just coming into flower.

Corolla funnel-shaped of VIBURNUM  COTINIFOLIUM.

Yellow anthers within the pretty flowers of VIBURNUM  COTINIFOLIUM

Stellately-tomentose underside of lower surface of  VIBURNUM  COTINIFOLIUM leaf.


14th April 2017

CLEMATIS MONTANA climbing up tall shrubs at the rear section of the garden.

Impressive display just as flowers have fully opened and turned white.

Early bronze-coloured - leaves with 3 ovate-lanceolate acute toothed leaflets.

Specimen collected for drying and pressing to add to Stewart Memorial Herbarium of Himalayan plants.


10th April 2017

Fine display of CLEMATIS MONTANA flowers changing from pale green in bud to white - this had climbed to over 4m.

Pale green anthers and filaments within white CLEMATIS  MONTANA

Pale green anthers and filaments within white CLEMATIS  MONTANA

Softly reddish-white-hairy emerging leaves of QUERCUS  SP.

Softly reddish-white-hairy emerging leaves of QUERCUS  SP.