Homeward Bound

Before I left England for my trip to India and China I took the bold decision not to attempt blogging whilst I was away. It’s been the longest gap between two posts in six years, but it was the right decision for me and my sanity. Blogging whilst on buying trips is tough, not only due to the shortage of time, but also my lack of enthusiasm for the task. Restricted Internet access, particularly in China, also makes blogging enormously time-consuming and frustrating. In spite of my best intentions, by the end of each working day I find I’m just not in the mood to do battle with my laptop. So, sincere apologies to those of you who have missed me: I am back now, with a vengeance.

Raj Ghat

As usual there were precious few opportunities on this trip to visit gardens or enjoy nature, but I find them where I can. In India I made a point of revisiting Ghandi’s cremation site, Raj Ghat, and also Humayun’s tomb with its exemplary Mughal gardens. Partially restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture between 2000 and 2003, the 30 acre site is criss-crossed by three kilometres of water channels creating a series of four-quartered Chahar Bagh paradise gardens. Despite warnings of thieves and hawkers I have only ever found this place to be peaceful and revitalising.

Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi

A new discovery for me on this visit was Isa Khan Niyazi’s tomb, which in many ways I like better than Humayun’s final resting place. The elaborate, round structure is surrounded by India’s oldest sunken garden, now simply planted with shading trees and bounded by a crenellated sandstone wall.

Isa Khan Niyazi’s Tomb, New Delhi

Arriving in Hong Kong on a Sunday I stole half a day to walk around Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak. Here, and throughout Guangdong province in mainland China, evidence of the recent typhoon was all too clear. Hong Kong alone is estimated to have lost five million trees in one of the most brutal storms in living memory. Surveying the city’s skyscrapers from high above it was clear where typhoon Mangkhut had cut swathes through the vegetation and damaged buildings.

The roots of an Indian rubber tree growing on The Peak

Whilst sad to witness the demise of so many trees, not to mention the plants crushed beneath them, Hong Kong’s subtropical climate will facilitate rapid regrowth. For the first time I spied several native camellias, including the oil-tea camellia (Camellia oleifera), Hong Kong camellia (Camellia hongkongensis) and, my favourite, Crapnell’s camellia (Camellia crapnelliana) which has the most gorgeous, smooth, cinnamon-brown bark and stunning white flowers.

Camellia crapnelliana

It wasn’t then until my last hotel, in the Longgang district of Shenzhen, that I had the opportunity to experience my next garden. The Castle Hotel is a golf resort, and a very smart one at that. The Zhengzhong course is an oasis in the otherwise monotonous and depressing urban sprawl that is Shenzhen. (One can drive for hours and yet still be in Shenzhen, I cannot fathom it and I don’t especially enjoy it either!).

A view of Zhengzhong golf course from my hotel room

Again the course had been ravaged by the same typhoon that savaged Hong Kong, many trees wrenched from the ground or snapped off mid-trunk. The groundsmen had felled the most badly damaged trees and stacked the logs neatly in the undergrowth, I assume for the benefit of wildlife. The Chinese water garden, pictured below, seemed to have survived relatively intact, bounded by swathes of Alpina zerumbet ‘Variegata’, assorted philodendrons, codiaeums, hibiscus and golden shrimp plants (Pachystachys lutea).

The hotel grounds with Loropetalum chinense in the foreground
Philodendron bipinnatifidum (aka lacy tree philodendron or horsehead philodendron)
Spot the typhoon damage inflicted on this grove of Albizia julibrissin (pink silk tree), middle left
A pleasing combination of water, hard landscaping and foliage
A brick path leads through banks of tropical foliage
Pachystachys lutea

Returning home from Hong Kong this morning at 7.30am I experienced a chill that I’ve not encountered since The Beast from the East. Yet the garden remains, in the most part, unblemished. Tomorrow I shall start bringing plants in from the cold, but not until I’ve had some much needed beauty sleep. It’s good to back. TFG.

This scene amused me no end ….

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21 thoughts on “Homeward Bound

  1. So pleased you are safely back, Rusty Duck and I were only saying on Wednesday that we had not heard from you for a while. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog but have just started using an old iPhone 4 and I can’t see the pictures! Off to the laptop to see if that works. Have a good rest and I look forward to your next blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Much as it pained me I had to give blogging a break for this trip. When I’m on my own I can carve out the time, but when I’m in company it’s not so easy. And my schedule is relentless. I tried to keep up with Instagram in between but I know not everyone uses that. However I’m back now and have plenty to write about. Hope you’re all well down in sunny Devon?

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  2. I love the last picture with the gardener watering. That takes me back to time spent in China and South East Asia. There were always lots of people doing Tai Chi and weirder exercises (face slapping etc) in the early morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All well in Devon, except I am on crutches and cannot garden. Have seen the lovely photos with this blog, I especially love the red Bunga Raya at the top.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it is a good thing to switch off from technology once in a while and especially when abroad. Nice that you got to see some gardens whilst you were away. I think tropical gardens are lovely in their natural environment. Not so much in a tropical glasshouse. But heat and humidity are not my friends. I am very much a temperate person. Glad you had a good trip and hope you get those tender plants indoors before the frost hits them. The temperature has definitely plummeted this weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

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