Extract

The Secret Garden of Kasnak

High in the Toros Mountains, Chris Gardener finds the remote Kasnak Forest carpeted with peonies in spring. Photographs by Kate Clow

  • The peony Paeonia mascula, subsp mascula, glowing in the Kasnak Forest. The plant is a long-lived perennial, but its flowers last only a week or two. Photograph: Kate Clow

Dawn reveals towering limestone peaks tinted with soft sunlight and mirrored in the calm of a vast inland lake. It is a cool May morning at Lake Eğirdir, in Turkey’s southwest, and we are here to search out the rare orchids and tiny alpine flowers which thrive in this rugged landscape.

As any self-respecting botanist will tell you, Turkey in spring is a land of bewildering variety. Here, within the Toros Mountains, are many different habitats, each filled with myriad floral gems. Yet one particular day, the day we spent among carpets of peonies, stands out from all the rest.

The Kasnak National Park is an area of natural mixed forest just below the treeline. At 1600 metres a diverse botanical treasure lies hidden amid its stands of graceful cedar, juniper and hornbeam, manna ash and five species of oak, including the eponymous Kasnak Oak (Quercus volcanica)…

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Issue 22, 2000/2001 The Sultan’s Chalet
£8.00 / $11.16 / 45.77 TL
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Issue 22, 2000/2001 The Sultan’s Chalet
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