Monday, 19 May 2014

Turkey Trip

I just had the privilege of spending a week in Turkey as part of my scholarship. Being my first trip to Turkey, I didn't really know what to expect, but it ended up being one of the best travel experiences. 

Old Istanbul

Part of the trip was spent in Istanbul and part in the eastern town of Erzincan--what a contrast! In Istanbul I experienced a bit of sensory overload with so much going on. This was a horticulture-based trip, but it was also very much a cultural experience. We worked in the botanic garden one day, laying out and planting part of a border.  It's always fun to meet other horticulturalists and see the work that they're doing and share plants and ideas. 

Border before

Border after

I also enjoyed seeing the city. Situated on the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara, the city slopes up away from the water, creating a wonderful tiered effect. I especially appreciated all the old architecture and the traditional markets. 

Istanbul is a beautiful city

It was nice to leave the hustle and bustle of Istanbul and head east for a few days. We stayed in the town of Erzincan. It felt small after being in Istanbul, but it still had lot going on in its own right. There was a busy main street with numerous shops and restaurants, and then, as if you had pulled back the curtain to a different scene, one block over in the shadows of the main street there was a fabulous old market. Everyday they had farmers selling fresh fruit and veg and seeds, as well as the permanent shops of the local artisans-- it was great. 

Probably wouldn't see this in Istanbul! 

Old mountain village

From Erzincan, we were able to do day trips out into the surrounding mountains and countryside looking at plants in the wild. Turkey has a wonderful range of endemic plants, and although we were a little early for some things, we still saw quite a bit.  It's great to see these plants growing in their natural habitats.  We become so accustomed to the plants we buy in our local garden centers and nurseries, that we often forget where they come from.  By seeing them growing naturally, it not only gives me a greater appreciation for the plant in a cultivated setting, but it gives greater insight into the specific requirements of that plant. 

 Pelargonium endlicherianum
Ferula orientalis

Tchihatchewia isatidea

This was a special trip and a wonderful experience, from the people, to the food, and obviously the plants--I hope to be back one day! 

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