The land-loving sea buckthorn

Chinese sea buckthorn, despite its name, hails from high mountains and grows well in the landlocked confines of Wisley, where it bears testament to one of the greatest plant-hunting partnerships of all time

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RHS Gardening Podcast
Episode 111 (item starts at 28:03)

Hippophae sinensisHippophae sinensis growing at RHS Garden Wisley. The species is closely related to the British native sea buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides, and shows a similar tendency to sucker. The removal of suckering growth has encouraged its single trunk to take on tree-like proportions, supporting a framework of picturesquely gnarled branches.

A picnic outside the British consulate in Kashgar in the early 1930sA picnic outside the British consulate in Kashgar in the early 1930s. Kashgar is one of the most westerly cities in China and has an ancient history as a trading post along the Silk Road and a meeting point of diverse cultures. It was at the consulate that Frank Ludlow and George Sherriff met in 1929, beginning one of the greatest plant hunting partnerships of all time.

Left: the entry for LSE15724 under the name Hippophae rhamnoides subsp. yunnanensis in Ludlow and Sherriff’s notes for 1947. A lifetime later the progeny raised from this collection is one of the most beautiful trees to be found at RHS Garden Wisley. Right: the file held at Wisley containing copies of Ludlow and Sherriff’s notes from their trip to Tibet in 1946 and 1947.

Frank Ludlow (standing) and, seated beside him, George SherriffFrank Ludlow (standing) and, seated beside him, George Sherriff at Gangtok, Sikkim, in 1933, the year of their first expedition together. The other seated figure is Frederick Williamson, the British Consul General of Kashgar with whom Ludlow was staying when he met George Sherriff for the first time.


George SherriffGeorge Sherriff towards the end of his life working in his garden near Kirriemuir in Angus where he re-lived the adventures of his youth by growing an extraordinary range of Himalayan plants.

Sherriff passed away in 1967 at the age of 69, nearly half a century after he had nearly died of gassing in France during the First World War.

Though thirteen years his senior, Frank Ludlow outlived his friend and died in 1972, aged 86. Like Sherriff, he never lost his fascination for the plants of the Himalaya and spent his latter years studying the specimens held at the British Museum of the species they had collected.

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