Showing posts from February, 2011

Jodhpur's famous fort garden under restoration

Jodhpur - majestic city of kings - in western Rajasthan, is also home to some of the finest Indian gardens I've seen on this trip, including Chokelao Bagh at Mehrangarh Fort (above) which has been restored over the last ten years and is now worth visiting if you're in the area. The original garden was laid out in 1739 by Maharaja Abhai Singh, when it was planned as a terraced chahar bagh.   Water is in short supply in Rajasthan, which relies on a good monsoon to fill both lakes and water tanks in the long, dry season between February and July, so Chokhelao is not designed to the conventional chahah bagh plan described in the link above - although it does have a well in the middle of the garden. The plan today has made best use of plants that can survive the long, hot months without constant watering. Chokhelao is divided into three terraced areas - the top terrace (above) is the flower garden, to be enjoyed during the day, and has been designed for both colour and texture. But i…

Stunning secret castle garden in Rajasthan

There can be few things more surprising than finding a secret flower garden in the middle of Rajasthan, India, but I'm staying there right now - at Castle Bijaipur, near Chittaurgarh - with my intrepid travelling friends from Jardins sans Frontiers. No chance to post recently because we've been way off the beaten track, but I have a brief internet connection and wanted to share this beautiful place with you. The ruling family still resides in part of the castle, but has opened much of the property to guests. Life doesn't get much better than this - in a charmingly restored property overlooking verdant countryside at this time of year. But the most exciting part is the garden surrounding the castle - complete with lawns and glorious borders - that remind me of home. Many of the plants here are reminiscent of English flower borders and all the family take pride in their unusual plot within the castle walls. There are flowers in all the garden areas within the garden walls, as …

Spectacular display in Rajasthan desert!

It's strange weather in Rajasthan! We've had monsoon rain in February; roads were flooded and skies dark yesterday and today as I made my way to Jaisalmer in the far Northwest corner of the state to witness a crane feeding ceremony unlike any other I've seen before. If you travel north of Jodhpur, you'll come to a remote village near the Indian border, where thousands of demoiselle cranes descend every morning at this time of year to be fed by the villagers. It's a spectacular sight, even in the current cold, damp weather, and has been going on for many, many decades. It's impossible to work out how many pairs of demoiselles there are - cranes are birds that partner for life - but they start descending on the village shortly after sunrise during the winter months (October- March) and have been returning to the same spot for nearly 100 years. They fly in strict formation. As more and more birds arrive, the noise is deafening! You can hear them coming from a conside…

Don't miss the snowdrops at Chelsea Physic Garden!

Just a hurried post between intercontinental flights for me today, but if you get the chance .... do go and see the snowdrops at Chelsea Physic Garden! I'd hoped to fit in many snowdrop displays on my brief visit to England, but the weather was grey, time ran out and I'm now en route to Rajasthan. This is London's oldest Botanic Garden and it's open next weekend (12th and 13th February) for snowdrop viewings. There's quite a bit in bloom here, considering it's only early February - hellebores, iris, cyclamen and crocuses are all beginning to flower. More from India when I get there!