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Introduction

The Valley of Flowers was 'discovered' and brought to Western attention by Frank Smith - mountaineer and botanist - in 1931 and has been a favourite of botanists and trekkers ever since. While the wildflowers don't reach their full blooming frenzy until July and August, during the monsoon season, my timing brought me there in early June. There were still lots of flowers, though, and the rain was contained to the afternoons so a fair trade-off, I thought. What was fascinating was how many species I recognized from my own garden, right down to the blackberry I saw pushing through azaleas at one point, which gave me a scare: even here, high up in the Himalayas, they have a problem with invasive species!! Until I remembered, we probably don't call it "Himalayan Blackberry" for nothing.