North-west Yunnan and south-west Sichuan
Our aim was to find Primula bullata and its relatives, but our first find was a lovely Deutzia.
There was a pink variant as well as the white one.
Our first Primula was forrestii, here in a giant form.
Note the difference between the shape, size and farina of summer and winter leaves.
Real Primula bracteata is very like P. forrestii. Here it is growing on a sheer limestone cliff.
Unlike P. forrestii, it has no farina, leaves of a different shape, and short flower stems.
A chance encounter with a shepherd led us to Primula bullata - unseen in its type location for 125 years.
Mr Lu and our driver Yang Kun exchange phone numbers.
Even our 4WD vehicle struggled to get up the mountain.
Eventually we reached the site - and took the first ever photographs of Primula bullata.
Primula bullata, distinguished mainly by the mass of farina on the inflorescences.
Summer and winter leaves again differ in size, shape and presence of farina.
Summer and winter leaves of the current and previous years.
There is no doubt: bullata, bracteata and variety are the same species - all are varieties of Primula bullata.
What we have grown as Primula bracteata is P. henrici.
Amongst the many flowers on this range were Stellera chamaejasme var. chrysantha.
Wonderfully scented, this is a magnet for butterflies.
Incarvillea delavayi was abundant. This was Delavay's main plant-hunting area.
With this work done, we travelled via Tiger Leaping Gorge to Zhongdian, now called Xiang Ge Li La.
On Tian Bao Shan Iris bulleyana was abundant - despite being trampled by yaks.
The usual form is purple.
There was one plant with white flowers …
… and one plant with this lovely white and purple combination.
Blue and light purple forms are clearly happy growing in limestone crevices.
Later in the trip we found this dark red form.
Shrubby Aster batangensis was in full flower.
Megacodon means giant bells. M. stylophorus is nearly 2 metres tall.
The insides of the bells have a complex pattern of green markings.
Heading towards Hong Shan, a reminder of the old, hard life of villagers.
Perhaps that was what this sign in a hotel room was about!
The road is both a construction site and a main road: chaos!
On the edge of the cutting, Cypripedium flavum teeters on the brink.
The road over Hong Shan goes for many kilometres at over 4000 m.
There is a huge variety of plants. Here is Anemone demissa.
Pam and Stella admiring masses of the primula.
Primula lepta - maybe.
Lots of primulas - and lots of Meconopsis. This is M. concinna.
Meconopsis pseudointegrifolia - front and side views.
It looks good from the back, too.
Another view of Meconopsis rudis.
The screes held many plants, often hard to see when not in flower. Fritillaria delavayi.
Inside a flower of Fritillaria delavayi.
Corydalis benecincta, one of several species in the screes.
A good form of Koenigia forrestii.
Down from the screes the abundance of flowers continued. One of the many species of Pedicularis.
Rhododendron saluenensis var. chamaeunum.
A remarkable range of colours of Rhododendron rupicola.
At the end of a wonderful day, we found a meadow full of Primula sikkimensis and secundiflora.
The cheese factory provided welcome accommodation …
… although the meat on the menu was not entirely to our taste,
Restaurant menus often look more like this.
A journey through Muli produced more primulas. This is P. rupicola, which grows on limestone rocks.
Primula gracilenta, which we had only seen once before. -
This one baffled all of us. We think that it might be Primula diversifolia.
Much of the area has been devastated by insects, tree felling, fire and overgrazing.
We returned to Lijiang, now a huge tourist resort …
… although the views from the windows of new buildings are not always good.
A visit to the Field Station allowed us to see them growing many native plants.
These included this excellent Rheum.
Primula vialii was growing well, and we saw it wild nearby.
This form of Thalictrum delavayi is compact but has huge flowers. Magnificent.
Heading back south, Primula pulchella had come into flower.
We also saw Primula malvacea in flower for the first time.
We then went to search for Primula ambita. Its only known site had been destroyed to make tiny 'fields'.
Eventually our searching revealed another small colony.
These are probably the first photographs ever taken of wild plants of this species.
It has cream and yellow flowers, produced over a long season.
The trip ended with a night in an old town …
… and a walk through an old wood.