Sandalwood – fragrant finery

Sandalwood Santalum album L., commonly known as East Indian Sandalwood or Chandan, is a small tropical tree highly prized for its wood and scented oil. Its wonderful fragrant oil is used in perfumes, toiletries and incense. It is a fascinating tree in many ways. Sandalwood: the tree and its cultivation Sandalwood is found throughout India,… Read More

Weekly photo challenge: fall

Deep in the walnut-fruit forests of Kyrgyzstan, miles from the nearest track passable by a 4×4, I was climbing a narrow path when the family group suddenly appeared around a corner. I quickly asked (with gestures only as I don’t speak Kyrgyz) whether I could take a photo, and after Dad’s nodding approval I managed to take just two frames as they carried on past. Read More

Arboretum and tree collections in Britain

Britain has many wonderful collections of trees in arboretums (arboreta), botanic gardens and country parks.  Many of these are some of the oldest collections in the world.  I’ve created an interactive Google map showing 23 of the finest collections of trees in Britain. Click on the map icons to read more about each collection and… Read More

Lepyoshkas, smarties and an unfortunate powercut

We’ve been here one week today but time seems immeasurable: it feels like a lifetime ago that my companion, Peter Savill, and I left London Heathrow. We had another good day collecting walnuts; this time in a new area further East. Mid-morning, we’d stopped in a remote area for our usual snack of chai and lepyoshkas … Read More

The road to the walnut-fruit forests

We spent until 1200 packing up and getting ready to leave Bishkek for our flight to Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second city. After many complicated discussions we (my companion Peter, our student translator Askar, and me) finally got underway to Manas airport via a taxi. We arrived early with four hours to spare. The only interesting thing to happen was the sudden fall … Read More

Lost luggage and secret maps

In 1997 I undertook an expedition to Kyrgyzstan with friend and colleague Peter Savill, to collect walnut seeds from the naturally occurring walnut-fruit forests. Stranded in the capital city Bishkek for three days, following the loss of our luggage by the airline somewhere en route in Kazakstan, a frustrating time was spent waiting.  We also… Read More