The trees and shrubs shown on this site come from every continent with the obvious exception
of Antarctica. Some areas have comparatively few garden-worthy shrubs, some very many.
It is helpful when growing any plant to understand the climatic conditions from which
it originated. On these five pages we have discussed the main countries where the plants
have been discovered, thus annotating the climates, temperatures and rainfall in which they thrive.
Central and Western Asia and the Himalayas
Central and Western Asia
Trees and Shrubs from central and western Asia are mostly very hardy, but require
warm summers to grow and flower well. The steppe areas of Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan
and Soviet Central Asia contain many important plants, especially Almonds, Cherries,
Plums and other members of the Rose family, and numerous brooms. Most would do well in
the drier inland parts of North America. They normally get cold winters, wet spring
and autumn weather, and hot summers with only the occasional shower. More moisture-loving
species, which do well in northern Europe, are found along the Black Sea and Caspian Sea
coasts and in the Caucasus, where summers are warm and wet. Shrubs from this area
have been coming into cultivation since the sixteenth century.
Rhododendrons are the glory of the Himalayas, and played a very important part in
the development of the woodland gardens of Victorian Britain. J. D. Hooker, son of
W. J. Hooker, the first director of Kew, visited the eastern Himalayas around the
borders of Nepal and Sikkim in 1848 and remained until 1851. He collected seeds
and numerous plants, including twenty four species of Rhododendron in a single day.
This great range of mountains, which extends from Pakistan into western China,
has proved a fertile hunting ground for beautiful hardy plants and has been visited
repeatedly since Hooker's day by numerous famous botanists and gardeners who have
introduced new plants; famous names such as: Frank Ludlow, George Sherriff, Frank
Kingdon Ward, Oleg Polunin and Tony Schilling are especially associated with the
Himalayas of Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and N. Burma.
The Himalayan climate is characterized by cold, dry winters and warm, very wet
summers. The cold-tolerance of the shrubs is closely connected with the altitude
from which they come. Most of the slightly tender forest species are particularly
susceptible to cold dry winds in winter and do best in very sheltered gardens. Most
Himalayan species also require wet summers to grow well, and are less tolerant of
adverse conditions than similar species from China. Most of the rain comes from the
monsoons, which begin in June and last until the end of September in the east.
Spring and autumn are warm, dry and sunny. In the west the monsoon rains last only
from July to mid-September, and more rainfalls at others times of year.
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