In 1925 HH Sir Shuja ul Mulk decided to build a Fort at Balawosht Ayun at an elevation of 1370m . It was a typical mud structured Fort with 5 feet wide walls having an outer courtyard for men connected with ziz zag passage to the inner courtyard for the family. Price Khush Ahmed ul Mulk was then settled at this Fort. When he moved in here there were then just two trees in the surrounding and water was very scarce. Over the years Prince Khush Ahmed ul Mulk completely transformed the place into a lush Oasis. He was the one that introduced roses to Chitral and a host of shrubs and trees . The present experienced gardeners of Chitral all take inspiration from him and credit him with passing on knowledge to others. At the age of 94 Prince Khush Ahmed is still enthusiastic about extending Chitrals autumn colours.
In 2004 the mud structured Fort was dismantled due to frequent earthquake tremors that the Hindukush experiences. His son Maqsood ul Mulk was given the task to rebuild a house and settle there. He redid the old Fort retaining the treditional wood work and pillars. During construction work all the shrubs and plants were donated to others accept for the big trees none of the flowering plants were left.
Maqsood ul Mulk has now completely done up a new garden with terraced landscape introducing new varieties of flowering shrubs, roses ornamental trees and lovely autumn colours. Ayun Fort is situated at the entrance to the Kalash valleys in village Ayun. It is on a scenic ridge top right in the middle of the Ayun village. The garden gives you a 360 degree panoramic view in all directions dominated by the majestic Tirich Mir, 7708m, the highest peak of the Hindukush.
Beside the lovely garden the place is surrounded by an orchard with a variety of fruits . Hanging on the cliff top is the herbal and botanical garden that is being developed with vines falling down into the ayun stream 300 feet below. This section has a variety of conifers and lovely autumn colouring plants introduced from around the world.
Contact ; Maqsoodul_mulk@hotmail.com
PLANTS AND HERBS
Ayun fort has introduced many flowers to Chitral. Most of the rose varieties in Chitral started at Ayun and in due course of time moved around Chitral. Besides a host of local plants and herbs some of the new varieties being introduced to the area through Ayun Garden are :-
CLERODENDUM TRICHOTOMUN VAR.FARGESII , THE GLORY TREEThis ornamental shrub changes flowers completely. It starts with highly fragrant “ White flowers “ then completely changes colour into pink buds that open into “Crimson ornamental flowers” with turquoise jewels in the middle. The white and fragrant flowers appear in August and September. They come from pinkish calyces and look very pretty. Afterwards it produces fruit freely: the blue berries sit within the pink calyces.
METASEQOIA THE DAWN REDWOODMetasequoia (dawn redwood) is a fast-growing, deciduous tree, and the sole living species, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, is one of three species of conifers known as redwoods. It is native to the Sichuan–Hubei region of China. Although the least tall of the redwoods, it grows to at least 200 feet (60 meters) in height
LYCIANTHES RANTONNETTICommon name Blue Potato Bush or Solonum Ranonneti . It has fragrant dark blue to purple flowers during the warm months. Fruit and plant parts are poisonous . It is native to Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay now cultivated as ornamental the world over.
CEDRUS ATLANTICA,It is native to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. This stunning evergreen conifer can be a very large specimen tree (to over 100 feet) in the landscape. Its young, silvery foliage turns vivid glaucous blue as it ages
PICEA KOSTER.Its a small to medium-sized evergreen tree of densely conical habit, with intense silver-blue leaves, particularly so in spring. Slow to medium growth rate. Flat far-reaching roots.
BRUNFELSIA PAUCIFLORAThe Yesterday Today and Tomorrow plant (Brunfelsia pauciflora) is a decorative shrub native to Brazilian woodlands. It is colorful plant that blooms late in the season and blooms prolifically. Although it prefers a warm climate, you can grow it in a large pot and bring it into shelter if frost threatens your area.
PODRANEA RICASOLIANA OR PINK TRUMPET VINEThe Podranea ricasoliana or Pink Trumpet Vine, Port St. Johns Creeper, Zimbabwe Creeper, Queen of Sheba, this African native is evergreen and has pink trumpet shaped fowers with red veins. Hardy in zones 8 and warmer and prefers full to partial sun.
GINKGO BILOBARevered for its beauty and its longevity, the ginkgo is a living fossil, unchanged for more than 200 million years. Gingko and also known as the maidenhair tree it is a single species with no known living relatives; a living fossil that has been essentially unchanged for more than 200 million years; and an inspiring example of how humans can help a species survive.
LIQUIDAMBERLiquidambar are dediduous trees grown for their alternate maple like leaves which take on brilliant and long lasting autumn colours.
JUNIPERUS CHINESISThe Blue Point Juniper has dense, blue-green foliage making it a nice specimen tree for landscapes. Its pyramidal form and blue coloring will make a statement and contrast nicely with surrounding plants.
CHAEMACYPARISChamaecyparis lawsoniana (Lawson cypress) is a species of conifer in the genus Chamaecyparis, family it is native to Oregon and California. It occurs from sea level up to 1,500 m (4,900 ft ).It is a large evergreen tree, maturing up to 60 m (197 ft) tall or more, with trunks 1.2–2 m (4–7 ft) in diameter, with feathery foliage in flat sprays, usually somewhat blue-green it gives a nice contrast in color. It thrives best in well-drained but moist soils.
It is a very large evergreen tree, reaching up to 70 m (230 ft) tall and 4 m (13 ft) trunk diameter, with red-brown bark which peels in vertical strips
The tree is called Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica ) in English, though the tree is not related to the true cedars (Cedrus). This is a coniferous evergreen changing shades year round. In spring young foliage emerges a pale shade of yellow and by summer it is a striking contrast to the deeper green . By autumn the crinkled brown cones dangle daintily on the ends of the branches , then in winter the new cones that have developed gleam like lanterns. It grows best in deep, slightly acidic soil in a sunny locations. .