Lecture given in Delhi to commemorate P.N.Kohli

It seems appropriate, as Chris Chadwell, after a period of serious ill-health, builds up the strength to begin to publicly defend his activities over the almost four decades, to share the majority of digital 'slides' he showed during his key-note presentation at the 2nd Kohli Commemorative Event in the Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi, 2009.  A few, private family images are omitted - the internet is an impersonal, dangerous place and he has discovered to his cost, that innocently placing material on his web-sites for educational purposes, runs the risk of ignorant journalists, who cannot be bothered to read the content of the sites, to select snippets as ammunition to be used against him in pathetic tabloid-level articles to wrongfully and unfairly damage his reputation and by association, that of P.Kohli & Co.  So better to be cautious in the future - what a world we live in.  Do not believe everything which appears on-line, including that on supposedly reputable sources, where the truth does not get in the way of a sensationalist story. Tabloid-style journalists and the media are only looking to present people like Chris Chadwell, who has dedicated his adult life to the study of Himalayan flora, in an unfavourable light. Funny that they are not interested in exposing fraud amongst conservation charities or the wrong-doing of famous names who wholeheartedly endorse them....

In more positive vein, I trust you will be informed by going through the images below and some of the accompanying descriptions to explain a little about Prem Nath Kohli's contribution to the study, cultivation and conservation of Himalayan flora - he was genuine and raised concerns about conservation almost a century ago, decades before it became 'fashionable' to do so amongst governments, television presenters and royalty, who shed 'crocodile tears'.  Chris Chadwell cares deeply about the flora, environments and peoples of the Himalaya - as did Kohli.  The same cannot be said for journalists, institutions, governments and famous names...... Please read on to learn more and celebrate Kashmir's flora and its best ever plantsman, to whom the Himalayan Plant Association is dedicated, along with his daughter, Mrs Urvashi Suri. See: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/who-is-the-hpa-dedicated-to

First slide.


Delightful meadow with Falconer's Aster


Snow-covered mountains in the NW Himalaya


Blue-Pine (Pinus wallichiana)

Cobra-lilies (Arisaema propinquum) photographed near Gulmarg where Kohli skied in the 1930s


'Deodar' or 'Indian Weeping Cedar' which has out-grown the UK garden it was planted in - this sacred tree is often planted in Kashmir


Curious Kashmiri girls viewing a visiting Britisher being paddled along in a shikara


Honouring Prem Nath Kohli


The true Gentiana kurroo photographed in the wild by Dr Ted Lankester


The precipitous habit of steep cliffs (at relatively modest elevation) which is home to Gentiana kurroo near Mussoorie


Kohli scrambling up cliffs in search of seeds, bulbs and roots of ornamental Kashmir plants for cultivating in the Royal Parks & Gardens in the UK during the 1920s and 1930s; he had been deputed to explore for the material on behalf of The Maharajah of Kashmir following a request by Colonel (then Lord) Wigram, Private Secretary to King George V


Chris Chadwell's freezing camp-site on Nichinai Pass, Kashmir in the mid-1980s


The Zoji La at 3300m - the lowest pass over the Great Himalaya range, which divides Kashmir and Ladakh, with 5 or 6 hairpin bends stacked one on top of each other, with near sheer drops of up to 700m in places down to the settlement of Baltal


The edge of the road on the Zoji La leaves something to be desired - not for the faint-hearted!

 
The tyres of the truck we had just gone over the pass in.....


Berries of the 'Turkestan Sea-Buckthorn' which are used to produce what was a popular juice in Delhi at one time - high in vitamin C


It was the Moghul Emperor Akhbar who once exclaimed, "If there is a Paradise on Earth, it is here, it is here, in Kashmir"

Wular Lake in Kashmir


The 'Sacred Lotus of India' - one of the specialities of the lakes in the Kashmir Valley


A bird photographed in Ladakh, the 'Tibetan' part of the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir, by a member of the University of Southampton Ladakh Expedition of 1980 - Chris Chadwell's first visit to the region, where he was in charge of the botanical project, gathering three sets of pressed specimens found in the Suru Valley, for the herbaria of the University of Kashmir, Kew and University of Southampton (some of this set was subsequently returned to Ladakh to be used by amchi Tsewang Smanla to help teach plant identification to trainee doctors of traditional Tibetan medicine)


A Moghul garden in Kashmir

Suffering Moses Handicraft Emporium


Dr Ralph Stewart - the 'Father of Pakistan Botany' whom met Kohli during a visit to Kashmir in the 1930s; Chris Chadwell travelled to California to meet Stewart in 1983, who presented him with his final, personally annotated copy of 'An Annotated Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Pakistan & Kashmir', which has proven invaluable in his studies on the flora of the NW Himalaya - a number of Kohli's collections of pressed specimens (which were sent to Kew) are mentioned in this 'flora'


Pressed specimen of 'Chinar' (believed to be one of the parents of the familiar flaky-barked 'London Plane') in the University of Kashmir Herbarium - plant identification has traditionally been based upon inspection of dried, pressed specimens, mounted and labelled for reference purposes


Kohli came across a yellow-flowered member of the Dead-nettle family which Stewart thought was probably new to science butMukerjee the Indian specialist in this family considered it just to be a variety of an existing species: Chelonopsis albiflora var. cashmerica; it turns out that Stewart was correct, subsequently Ian Hedge at Edinburgh Botanics named it as Chelonopsis cashmerica but perhaps, it should have been named after Kohli... Had it been a Britisher who collected it, no doubt it, they would have been honoured!


An expanse of Colchicum luteum - one of the earliest plants to flower in the Kashmir Valley



Kohli wrote many articles and was a freelance photo-journalist


Plants from the Kohli nursery land (in India known as a farm) in Kashmir provided tulip bulbs for the cytological studies of Dr Wafai (who went on to be Professor and head of the Botany Department)


List of Tree & Shrub Seed offered by P.Kohli & Co.


P.Kohli & Co.'s premises in Kashmir - which I visited in the 1980s.


Chris Chadwell, expedition leader with Dr Uppeandra Dhar, Survey of Medicinal Plants Unit, University of Kashmir

Prem Nath Kohli, original Proprietor of P.Kohli & Co. (named after his first wife) back in 1928 pictured
in his office, some months before he sadly passed away


A typical Indian-style nursery bed, requiring irrigation during the dry summer months


Image of what was thought to be Primula clarkei in cultivation - Kohli was the one to locate living specimens of the rarest of Kashmir's primulas; material was sent back to Thomas Hay at Hyde Park, Superintendent of the Royal Parks and gardens; I suspect that most of the plants which appear on show-benches, some 80 years later are probably hybrids (mixed with Primula rosea or perhaps a back-cross)

A pot of what was thought to be Primula clarkei won a prize on this Alpine Garden Society show-bench some 70 years after it was introduced into cultivation thanks to P.N.Kohli (Chand, his Forestry Department supervisor took the credit and subsequently a Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medal but it was Kohli who travelled around Kashmir undertaking the actual plant hunting in response to a request to the Maharajah of Kashmir to gather seeds, bulbs and roots of plants of ornamental merit for growing in the Royal Parks & Gardens)


Clematis connata growing in the grounds of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, raised from seed supplied by P.Kohli & Co., for the Kashmir Botanical Expedition in 1983


The Late Geoff Hamilton filming in the Kohli Memorial Himalayan Garden - probably the world's smallest botanical garden, where plants supplied as seed and bulbs from P.Kohli & Co., grow

The exquisite 'Himalayan Peony' (Paeonia emodi) growing in the Kohli Memorial Himalayan Garden


Letter praising B.O.Coventry for the collection of material on behalf of The Maharajah of Kashmir, thinking it was him who undertook them, "the very skilful and scientific botanist...', when in fact it was P.N.Kohli!  It seems there is rather a history of others being credited for Kohli's efforts... Chris Chadwell is pleased to have the opportunity to set the record straight


Lord Wigram, who approached the Maharajah of Kashmir requesting material of ornamental Kashmir plants be sent for cultivation in the Royal Parks & Gardens became Lieutenant-Governor of Windsor Castle, establishing some of these in the Moat Garden


Chris Chadwell presenting a certificate to Mrs Urvashi Suri, one of P.N.Kohli's daughters, who became Proprietor of P.Kohli & Co., at the 1st Kohli Commemorative Event in Delhi in 2003


A copy of the certificate posthumously awarded to Narsim, who supplied P.Kohli & Co. with Himalayan seed over a period of 50 years.  Each Memorial Gold Medal honours P.N.Kohli - who was very much the 'giver' to other people. He took his duties, whether for the Kashmir Forest Department or as Proprietor of P.Kohli & Co.; he was hard-working a scrupulously honest, setting an example for all Indian firms


A Corydalis high in the Kashmir Himalaya


The wonderful 'Fragrant Columbine' (Aquilegia fragrans) beside a mountain lake in Kashmir



Chris Chadwell with the surviving daughters of P.N.Kohli


An article about Kohli entitled 'The Tulipman' appeared in 'The Statesman' November 1956 (2 years before Chris Chadwell was born) concentrating upon his export of bulbs (grown at his nursery in Kashmir, not dug up from the wild, setting an example to be followed in Turkey 50 years later) to Holland. He was in Delhi to attend a meeting of the Indian Council of Agriculture, Research Floriculture Committee.  The Staff reporter concluded that Mr Kohli's work was to make his countryman aware of his country's beauty and wealth in flowers and plants. 

Chris Chadwell was honoured to be doing his bit to draw attention to the exceptional efforts of Prem Nath Kohli. It is a sad reflection on the calibre of the reporters working for the BBC World Service these days that they suggested that P.Kohli & Co., either did not exist or conducted itself improperly, when nothing could be further from the truth. The firm had long held an export license for seed.  It is the officials of Indian Government Departments whose claims should be questioned, along with the competence of modern-day reporters, too lazy to bother to undertake background research...



Prem Nath Kohli - a truly Great man, setting an example for Indians to follow, always more of a Research Scholar than a businessman









Comments