Bumthang in Bloom

You’d be forgiven for thinking we’d transported ourselves to Switzerland but, no, this is Bhutan’s cultural heartland, Bumthang. Four bucolic pine-clad valleys make up this area of the country where the main activity is farming. Every lane is filled with placid grazing cattle of the doe-eyed Jersey kind, so calm they pay no heed to […]

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Flowers of Bhutan – Clematis montana

I have finally solved the curious case of the flowering evergreen oak. All along our travels in Bhutan I kept spotting what appeared to be oaks covered in sparkling white blossoms. Had I discovered a new species? Sadly, no, the white flowers belong to Clematis montana. Not as most of us gardeners know it, pink […]

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The Valley of the Black Cranes – Gangtey and the Phobjikha valley

I once read that your preference for different kinds of landscape stems from a deep seated evolutionary instinct related to the race you’ve descended from. Whether or not there is any truth in this I don’t know, but something in me finds forest both deeply peaceful and slightly unsettling at the same time. Many religions […]

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Farewell Bhutan

And when I say fare well, I mean it, for Bhutan is an extraordinary country which deserves a prosperous and happy future. The rest of the world could learn a great deal from this tiny Kingdom. I toyed with using another image of flowers to say my goodbyes, but nothing could be more fitting than […]

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Flowers of Bhutan – Primula calderiana

Today’s little Bhutanese gem is Primula calderiana. After a visit from the Thunder Dragon himself last night (i.e. a very dramatic thunder storm), the air was clear and fresh for our trip to Chele La. Just where the last snow was melting, the endive-like young leaves of this primula pushed up through the ground. Overwintering […]

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Flowers of Bhutan – Curcuma aromatica

This curious little fella is Curcuma aromatica, or wild turmeric. We discovered it today, growing amongst the pine needles at the side of the Mo Chhu, or Mother River, a couple of miles up from Punakha’s mighty Dzong. It’s a member of the ginger family and has rhizomes with a strange fragrance and attractive deep […]

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Flowers in the Forest – Over the Dochu La Pass

Much of the driving in Bhutan is tortuous and faintly terrifying. It’s best to pay as little attention as possible to where the car wheels are going and distract yourself with plant spotting instead. Imagine driving along a farm track through one of the great Cornish gardens like Trebah or Glendurgan, add a few dozen […]

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Thorny Subjects – Paro to Thimphu

Before I start waxing lyrical about the botanical delights of Bhutan, which are plentiful, I should firstly point out that our trip is not officially a botanical one (to keep the peace with Him Indoors), and secondly that much of my botanising has had to be carried out from the back of a four wheel […]

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The Land of the Thunder Dragon

The Butanese have 13 traditional arts and crafts, known collectively as Zorig Chusum. These are supported by all levels of society and are integral to every Butanese home. Strict conventions exist around the designs, which are carefully observed. However artists can express their personality through the execution of minor details. Below, year 4 art students […]

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Fried Fiddleheads and Asparagus

Yes, you’ve got it, these are young fern fronds, otherwise known as fiddleheads or, here in Bhutan, as ‘Nakey‘. They are either fried as a side dish or cooked and eaten with meat and chillies, the ubiquitous ingredient in Bhutanese cooking. Sold alongside long spears of asparagus, they are said to have a similar texture. […]

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