I always wonder whether the immensely tall and the rare rhododendrons were brought to Ardnagashel by Col. Ronald Kaulback (the owner from just after WWII until the early seventies). He had joined famous plant hunter Frank Kingdon-Ward (1885- 1958) on one of his expeditions to Tibet. He went to Tibet a second time (with John Hanbury-Tracy who had been a frequent guest in Ardnagashel), mapping the terrain for the Royal Geographical Society and collecting specimens of flora and fauna for the Natural History Museum in London. Two of Kaulback’s many books ‘Tibetan Trek’ (1936) and ‘Salween’ (1938) tell of his adventures and impressions.
As a result of these links with Tibet, Col. Ronald’s daughter and son in law Sonia and Robin Waddell received invitations from the Dean of Westminster Abbey in early 2012, to attend an audience (among others persons, each with some historical Tibetan connection) with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Jerusalem Chamber, part of the Dean’s residence adjacent to the Abbey itself. It was suggested that they each bring a documentary or photographic memento of the ancestor in question, together with a white scarf, a traditional offering on such occasions, to present to the Dalai Lama.
It was in Tibet that Col. Ronald Kaulback discovered foot prints of what he thought was the Yeti (Tibetan for ‘rock bear‘), you can find an illustration of this incidence by clicking here and an recent article (2007) here. There is a lovely photograph taken on this occasion here (refresh the link if it doesn’t show immediately).
Back to the rhododendrons: This year we found and uncommon species of rhododendron with small tubular orange-yellow colored flowers, probably Rhododendron cinnkeys (cinnabarinum x keysii) which is 6 to 7 ft tall (almost 3 m)…
…and two surprisingly fragrant rhododendrons in an extremely overgrown area of Ardnagashel Estate, we just discovered them by following their intense perfume shortly before sunset… the soft pink blooms were high above us. Behind those tall shrubs a very slim eucalyptus tree had fallen just like a match, probably recently in the last winter.