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The Primrose Path

In the garden we may take them for granted, but in the wild, their colours make the heart sing. Andrew Byfield celebrates the vibrant beauty of Turkey’s primulas

  • Top: The classic primrose, 'Primula vulgaris ssp. vulgaris', flourishes in cool northern mountains. Above: Cherry pink 'Primula vulgaris ssp. sibthorpii' prefers woodlands
  • Early summer hayfields in the Soğanlı Mountains near Trabzon are an ideal habitat for lilac-flowered 'Primula auriculata' (below)

For the lazy botanist (like me) the network of forest and village roads that crisscross Anatolia’s mountain tops are an enormous boon. These days flower-rich mountain summits and alpine pastures take a matter of hours to reach, a far cry from the week-long hauls of decades gone by. I recall one trip a few summers ago, into the mountains south of Rize, in Anatolia’s most northeasterly corner. Snow had turned the road into a pudding (it had fallen in June, if you please!), the route was new to us, petrol was running ominously low and one of my white-knuckled passengers kept shifting his body weight to try to save us from sliding over the edge.

Yet all worries faded as we crossed the pass (at a height of more than 3,000 metres) and dropped into a broad mountain valley of the headwaters of the İyidere, above Çimil. Lozenges of the last winter snow lay in cold hollows, but the rest of the valley was covered in purple oxlips. The plant was Primula elatior ssp meyeri, according to some botanists. Others, along with most gardeners, regard it as so distinct in colour alone that they prefer to treat it as a separate species, Primula amoena

To read the full article, purchase Issue 15

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Issue 15, 1998 Mountain Secrets
£12.00 / $15.64 / €14.31
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 15
  • The Holy Mountain

    Ottoman Athos unveiled: an unprecedented portrait of the glorious backdrop to a thousand years of unworldly devotion and Byzantine intrigue, By Anthony Bryer, with photographs by Graham Speake

  • Some corner of a foreign land

    On the Great Lake of the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, outside St Petersburg, stands this peaceful Turkish bath, an ironic legacy of a century of intermittent warfare

  • The Noble Heart

    A glorious thistle, the globe artichoke merits better than the usual simple boiling, especially if it is the giant Turkish globe, with its huge mouth-watering centre. Berrin Torolsan reveals how to do it justice

  • Home is where the yurt is

    Out of sight of the sea, high above Göcek Marina at Huzur Yadisi, another green peace prevails. In a hidden valley, Richard Tredennick-Titchen found an encampment of yurts that dramatically changed his life.

  • Four men and a snowcock

    One of Turkey’s finest birds is the grouse-like Caspian snowcock. To find it takes some organising, for it lives way above the summer pastures in remote areas such as the Aladaglar, the highest part of the Taurus Mountains.

Buy the issue
Issue 15, 1998 Mountain Secrets
£12.00 / $15.64 / 517.63 TL
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