Back to Sason - Fritillaria imperialis
It all started last year. It was our first trip to Sason, our first climb to Mount Helkis for Iris gatesii. Sadly we were too late for this magnificent flower but we learned is that one slope of this mountain is covered with Iris gatesii and the other is Fritillaria imperialis!
It all started last year. It was our first trip to Sason, our first climb to Mount Helkis for Iris gatesii. Sadly we were too late for this magnificent flower but we learned is that one slope of this mountain is covered with Iris gatesii and the other is Fritillaria imperialis! There is nothing we could do but coming back here for the next year. And now it is that year!
Selahattin Güzel from Sason called a few days before we set off on the road and said ‘the flowers bloomed, come here now’…. So I went. Öykü, one of the editors of Flora of Turkey, jumped in with excitement and enthusiasm. My job is to paint, her job is to collect live and herbarium specimens for the collection of NGBB.
We bought our tickets and just rented a car, then we heard that military started an operation in Helkis! And now it is forbidden to go up the mountain! Damn! Mount Helkis is becoming a big challenge every year. Everything is gorgeous but nothing easy around here. We were super down of course, because this is nothing you can delay. You got to be there on time, otherwise you wait another year. And in every year, planning for the next year becomes more complicated, sadly. Anyway, we have just decided to go as it planned.
April 26 - We met with Öykü at Trabzon Airport as there is a direct flight to Diyarbakır where we rented our car. We drove straight to Sason after a little shopping. We arrived late in the evening and Selahattin, who was a little worried for us being late.
April 27 - Big day! Destination to Fritilliaria imperialis!! Mount Helkis is still prohibited, but we have been told there is another location. If we are lucky despite the fact that it is crazy raining and there is a big chance that the road will become sludge, we will find them! Tension is high, but hope is big.
We went to the northwest of Sason, not Helkis. İsmet Güzel, the nephew of Selahattin, guided us and the another İsmet (Kahraman) was the driver. We passed Şahinli village and continued along the red soil, and then we fell into heaven. Heaps among the cliffs, in between the rocky slopes, they shine my dear. They truly shine. They were everywhere! Öykü went to one side and I to the other. The guide İsmet was very happy for guiding us well and the other İsmet instantly disappeared on the mountain to collect Rheum ribes.
The moment that we were in was wonderful, wonderful and wonderful. While I was wandering around here for hours and the composition of my painting was taking it’s shape and the painting was getting bigger and bigger. I even don’t have such big paper to draw what I was dreaming on that land. That is a problem to solve for future, but now the best I can do is to dream big.
Seeing the plant in its habitat is actually the foundation of my compositions. For this reason, I wanted to paint this plant not alone, but as I see it here, as a big group. I guess I will not be able to paint what I saw, but I will try to express a little bit of that garden of paradise. That's why I painted many individuals and I choose a variety of colours and tone from opaque red to bright orange. I even found a yellow one!
It was as if the flowers had bloomed and time has stopped till I went there. The stamens and tepals of each one were exactly as they should be. ‘Fresh’ as much as possible. After taking my samples, we immediately went back to Sason and we have decided to stay for two more days to draw that paradise. I worked hard for preparing my sketches. While I was trying to draw and paint everything, Öykü and İsmet went for other plants to the foot of Helkis Mountain.
April 29 - After drawing a full day today, we set out for Mardin. When we were planning this fieldwork from the very beginning, we had two goals. One is Fritilllaria imperialis which was successfully completed and the other is Iris polakii. It is, on the other hand, an extremely beautiful iris that grows in a minefield on the Mardin-Syria border, blooming almost at this time. Last year, Abdurrahman, a villager in this region, grows one in his garden. He was photographing every stage of the plant from bud to flower and sending it to my father. As I supposed to go there last year, it didn’t happen due to pandemic. We thought we would see these two taxa together this year, but due to the extremely dry season, it has decided not to bloom this year. Disappointment!
We still continued to Mardin, we said that if there is no I. polakii, we would look at the location of I. gatesii in Mardin, which is blooming in the second half of May. Now, while I am writing this blog post, I am preparing my luggage and I am just about to start my trip to Mardin again with a two-weeks break. I am wishing myself all the luck of the world to find and illustrate this Iris.
April 30 - We looked three different locations of Iris gatesii and located some leaves. Meanwhile we have spotted Aristolacia bottea which I sketched quickly. Then in another time I did another sketch for Silybum marianum aka Milkthistle or Scotch thistle. Apparently this species originally a native of Southern Europe through to Asia, it is now found throughout the world.
May 1 - Öykü left to Istanbul with a massive amount of collected plants.
May 3 - I left to home after saying a quick hi to the lovely organizers of Mardin Biennial, Döne and Hakan. On my return, I think I will have a chance to see some amazing art and artists around the world.