Conservation

Inspiring women.

 

Husband and I get a big welcome in Nepal Every day, I meet amazing and interesting women.  I can’t believe my luck.  In they come, through The Potting Shed gate day after day and tell me stories of what they’re doing,  the causes they support and the projects that need help.  They link me to others who are following their passion and working quietly away to improve life for others.  They make sure I know about and help spread the word on coal action meetings, book launches and fundraising events like the Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia event last week at Dirty Janes Emporium. They introduce me to friends and artists who are making and designing things and of the whereabouts of local growers who need an outlet.   Like all the seriously committed participants in this weekend’s Relay for Life, they pass the baton on, and keep money rolling in for all sorts of charities, large and small.   The depth and breadth of this womanly network is astonishing.  It’s not the corporate ‘Linked In’ kind of network.  It’s the word of mouth, we need you to get involved kind of network. Activists, philanthropists, idea makers, influencers and toilers. All pulling their weight. All taking their turn at the wheel.  It is like a giant bee hive buzzing with purposeful life and endless energy.  And so I thought I would share some of their stories from time to time here on this blog.

First up, here’s a letter from a new friend and customer at The Potting Shed, Margie Thomas who inspires me with her passion for the Australian Himalayan Foundation.

Dear Maureen,

In August I’m heading off on a fund raising trek for the Australian Himalayan Foundation. We’ll be crossing the mighty Kali Gandaki river numerous times, trekking over a number of high altitude passes up to 4,500 metres, and riding Tibetan ponies through countryside that is unchanged, and reminiscent of rural Tibet 1,000 years ago. This will be quite an arduous adventure for someone who is 62-years-young.

The Australian Himalayan Foundation is dedicated to helping people of the Himalaya through improvements in education, healthcare, and conservation. Not to mention special projects like the innovative Himalayan Art Award and supporting the Snow Leopard Conservancy. Check out www.australianhimalayanfoundation.org.au for more detailed information. Or jump on this link to my fundraising page: http://makingadifference.gofundraise.com.au/page/ThomasML

I’m making a difference and fundraising for a cause that’s close to my heart. I’d appreciate any contribution, big or small. Donations made through this platform are secure and will be remitted directly through to my charity of choice.  It’s worth noting that donations are tax deductible.  Thanks so much for your support!

Margie

So I asked Margie for more information and here it is:

Maureen here you go … info on the pony trek to the ancient and remote walled city of Lo Manthang in Upper Mustang. There are only a few places left on this one-off journey. The concert by Tenzin Choegyal will be quite mind blowing. You can spend as much or as little time as you want on the ponies which are really fun. One gentleman walked the entire trip last August. 

Good on you Margie … and thanks for including the pics of the buckwheat crop in flower and the spectacular rhododendron garlands … to fit in with my ‘gardening’ theme.  Ever thoughtful!

If you’d like to join this amazing trek, contact Margie on  0418 457 152 or via email at mrsweare@gmail.com. You can download a pdf of the tour itinerary here – Upper Mustang Pony Trek or scroll down for the Trek highlights.

 

Margie is PICTURED ABOVE WITH her HUSBAND GARRY WEARE (AUTHOR OF 4 EDITIONS OF LONELY PLANET’S GUIDE BOOK “TREKKING IN THE INDIAN HIMALAYA” AND DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE AUSTRALIAN HIMALAYAN FOUNDATION) being welcomed with RHODODENDRONS.  

Chorten and snow capped peaks _MG_2413 Grain crop in flower -Upper Mustang Mustang Aug 2013 397 Upper Mustang Pony Trek with the Australian Himalayan Foundation August 2014

Meet up with Stan Armington and Tenzin Choegyal in Lo Manthang. Our 2nd departure will be accompanied by Lindsay Brown, Conservation Biologist and former Publishing Manager of trekking guides at Lonely Planet, Lindsay now treks, jeeps, rides and stumbles across many a mountain pass while writing and photographing for Lonely Planet’s Nepal, Bhutan, India, and Pakistan and the Karakoram Highway guides, among others. Mustang is a wildly beautiful region of Nepal. It is culturally and geographically part of Tibet, and was until about 20 years ago, closed to the world. Tourism is still strictly controlled and limited. The Australian Himalayan Foundation and Adventure Associates invite you on the trek of a lifetime to remote Upper Mustang and the ancient and fascinating walled city of Lo Manthang.

‘Authentic Tibetan culture survives only in exile in a few places like Mustang, which has had long historical and cultural ties with Tibet.’ HH Dalai Lama

Trip highlights

 A unique itinerary devised by the legendary Stan Armington

 Hear musician Tenzin Choegyal perform a special concert for the locals inside the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang.

 Trek beneath some of the world’s most dramatic mountains

 Experience a breath-takingly beautiful high altitude desert and the world’s deepest valley

 Visit ancient gomphas, abandoned forts and maybe a nomad camp

 Visit the extraordinary Chosar caves and Mustang’s oldest Gompha, Lo Gekar

 Spend time in the 15th century Thubchen gompha – arguably one of the world’s great rooms.

 

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Golden toffee apples.

IMG_9980Yesterday morning, the sun came out and sparkled on the soaked landscape.  So I took our little dog Harry and sheepdog Sam on the quad bike for a big run around the pinoak paddock.  (Jack doesn’t come, he’s scared of the bike!)  And on the way, we passed the Medlar tree.  Now in its fourth year it is laden with fruit and in the watery light of the morning sun it looked incredibly beautiful.  The medlars are like golden toffee apples and are set off by the Manchurian Pear as it changes colour, and you can just see in the background (pics below) our neighbours pinoaks turning colour in the same amber tones.  Very soon their Pinot Noir vines will also turn to match and the russet tones gather together in an almost perfect autumn painting.  People ask me what we do with the medlars.  And the answer at this stage is nothing.  I just pick them and admire them in a bowl.  In times of old they were valued as a fruit that was available in winter, but you can’t eat them off the tree.  You have to wait till they spoil, either by frost or becoming ‘bletted’ (basically rotten) in storage, then they are considered a delicacy and can be served as a dessert, or as an accompaniment to cheese and port.  An acquired taste, I believe. I’ve never tried them but a friend makes them into Medlar Jelly which I’m told is delicious.   So why grow fruit that you can’t eat?  Because I saw a lovely specimen years ago in the garden of the late Christopher Lloyd, at Great Dixter and it was so beautiful I had to have one.  It has massive blossoms in the spring – almost like magnolia flowers, then this golden fruit in autumn.  When it is bigger I’m imagining great branches of it in a massive floral arrangement and will pass some on to the very talented Margaret Young Whitford to turn into some incredible installation. Which is what she does so brilliantly. And that’s another story for another day. IMG_9979 IMG_9982 bletted_medlar medlar_blossomIMG_1907 IMG_7481 IMG_7493Medlar notes (thank you Wikipedia):

Mespilus germanica, known as the medlar or common medlar, is a large shrub or small tree, and the name of the fruit of this tree. The fruit has been cultivated since Roman times, and is unusual in being available in winter, and in being eaten when ‘bletted’ (browned by rot). It is eaten raw and in a range of dishes.

Despite its Latin name, which means German or Germanic medlar, it is indigenous to southwest Asia and also southeastern Europe, especially the Black Sea coasts of Bulgaria and of modern Turkey. The medlar was already being cultivated about three thousand years ago in the Caspian Sea region of northern Iran and Azerbaijan. It was introduced to Greece around 700 BC, and to Rome about 200 BC. It was an important fruit plant during Roman and medieval times. By the 17th and 18th century, however, it had been superseded by other fruits, and is little cultivated today. M. germanica pomes are one of the few fruits that become edible in winter, making it an important tree for gardeners who wish to have fruit available all year round. Mespilus germanica fruits are hard, acidic, and high in bitter tannins. They become edible after being softened, ‘bletted’, by frost, or naturally in storage given sufficient time. Once softening begins the skin rapidly takes a wrinkled texture and turns dark brown, and the inside reduces to the consistency and flavour reminiscent of apple sauce. This process can confuse those new to medlars, as a softened fruit looks as if it has spoiled.

Once bletted, the fruit can be eaten raw, and are often eaten as a dessert, for example with cheese or tarts, or used to make medlar jelly and wine. Another dish is “medlar cheese”, which is similar to lemon curd, being made with the fruit pulp, eggs, and butter. In Iran, the fruits, leaves, bark and wood of the tree have been used as medicines for ailments including diarrhoea, bloating of the stomach, throat abscesses and fever.

Mespilus germanica requires warm summers and mild winters and prefers sunny, dry locations and slightly acidic soil. Under ideal circumstances, the deciduous plant grows up to 8 metres (26 ft) tall. Generally, it is shorter and more shrub-like than tree-like. With a lifespan of 30–50 years, the medlar tree is rather short-lived. The leaves are densely hairy and turn red in autumn before falling. It is found across Southern Europe where it is generally rare. It is reported to be naturalized in some woods in Southeast England, but is found in few gardens.
The flowers have five broadly ovate white petals and appear in late spring. They are hermaphrodite, pollinated by bees, and self-fertile. The flower is about 6 centimetres wide and the reddish-brown fruit is a pome, 2–3 centimetres diameter, with wide-spreading persistent sepals around a central pit, giving a ‘hollow’ appearance to the fruit.