21st September: been in Sikkim for 24 hours before I found out that our visas to north Sikkim have been refused on the grounds that the roads where still bad from the monsoon and last years earthquake, myself and Dawa decide that we would trek and collect in South Sikkim From Hilley and into the famous Bersay Rhododendron sanctuary, I look around the area of Gangtok we are staying in and see many trees and climbers in flowers including : Oxyspora paniculata, Albizzia procera, the South American shrub Datura suaveolens and the climber Ipomoea purpurea also from South America growing rampant over trees and shrubs like our Native Bindweed.
We left after lunch for what turned out to be a 7 hour drive passing through tropical forests of Emblica officinalis, Albizzia procera & marginata, and at higher elevations large areas of Alnus nepalensis as well as large areas of paddy fields for Rice production, the scenery was stunning, we reached Hilley in the dark but as we drove up the road the cars headlights where lighting up the rhododendrons, I could make out Falconeri, Grande, Arboreum, I wanted to stop and start to collect but I would have to wait until morning, we reached the home stay at Hilley and this was surrounded by rhodos, I had come to an amazing place and I couldn’t wait to get started
Woke up at 6,before breakfast explored some of the area, on the home stay doorstep was rhododendrons Arboreum ssp arboreum and ssp cinnamomeum, griffithianum and a good sized grande as well as Hypericum, gaultheria, a lovely alpine called viola biflora, podophyllum, disporum and a beautiful blue flowered climber called crawfordia I managed to collected seed from all of these, had breakfast at 7.30 and then we head into Barsey itself, we walk for approx 2 hours through a dense forest of Oak, Magnolias and Rhododendron grande and barbatum with an under-story of viburnhams, grasses, ferns, podophyllum, we passed by some huge Abies spectablis, we camped in Barsey and I explored the place in a dense fog which made the place seem very eerie.
After breakfast I managed to find and collect Cotoneaster microphyllus, several Clematis species, Viburnham erubescens, several berberis species including hookeri, Rhododendron falconeri, Allium species, Osmanthus species, Lonicera tomentella and Neilla rubiflora later myself, Dawa and U.T went back to the area where the giant Abies are and managed to collect several cones, I also collected Lithocarpus pachyphylla , Alnus nepalensis, More Clematis, Berberis, Lonicera, Akebia, Betula utilis, Rhododendron falconeri, Ferns, Potentilla and Rosa serica platyphylla
Today turned out to be a day when I would collect several plants that was on my wish list for next year! as we headed towards our next camp through a stunning forest of Rhododendron falconeri, I collected Viburnham erubescens, Disporum cantoniense var sikkimense, Several collections of Rhododendron grande and Dalhousiae var Dalhousiae the latter always growing as an epiphyte on giant Oaks and sorbus wallichi growing as an epiphyte, as well as Hypericum species, Ferns and Herbaceous perennials as we continued down I collected Herbaceous plants like Hedychium spicatum, and Crawfordia speciosa
After breakfast we headed down along a trail that had not been cleared for along time and it was very dense and wet and full of leeches, despite this I managed to collect some more from my wish list, I collected Euodia fraxifolia, Codonopsis viridis, castanopsis hystrix and hydrangea aspera with huge leaves growing by a stream, by know we was passing into tropical forest where the plants would not be hardy, we was making our way to Hee Bermoick and as we left the Bersay rhododendron sanctuary there is large areas of deforestisation and large production of cash crops like cardimone.
Today I visited an area called 3rd mile and was told that I am the first white man since Hooker to look for plants there! It is 2000m above sea level and it turned out to be a great days collecting, I collected Saurauia nepalensis, Edgeworthia gardeneri, zanthophyllum species, Astilbe rivale, viburnham erubescens, Hydrangea aspera, Hypericum species, Buddleja crispa, Neilla rubiflora, Lithocarpus pachyphylla, Quercus glauca, Several Hedychium, Arisemas, Thalictrum virgatum, we saw several Acer species including Acer hookeri without any fruit plus some large Rhododendron grande again with no seed