Nov 29, 2008

Mt. Scopus Botanical Gardens

Mount Scopus Botanical garden is situated in east Jerusalem and was established in 1920. It is attached to the Hebrew University and sits atop the high vantage point of Mt. Scopus. From the this vantage point your able to look back at the Old City of Jerusalem in the distance with the beautiful golden architecture of the Dome of the Rock, looking exquisite with the fall color of the moment. Mount Scopus is important georgraphically when it comes to rainfall. This is because when it does rain, with the rainy season starting in November, it is the divider between where it flows to. The rain that falls on the west side of Mt. Scopus flows towards the Mediterranean Sea, which would be the photo above. If the rain falls on the east side, it flows through the Judean desert, as seen above, towards the Dead Sea. Since the ground is so dry most of the time, it is actually dangerous when rainstorms happen due to the ground not being able to absorb the water quickly enough and thereby creating flash floods, especially closer to the Dead Sea. In the photo you are able to see part of the Israeli West Bank Border, which is the line which runs through the shaded out part of the mountains above.

In the actual gardens, it is set up to display the different native plant communities that exist within Israel. It is amazing though, at how well plants can adapt to their surrounding environment. Let me explain. Though you have the same 4 seasons here, the plants are on a different schedule. With the summers being so hot here, most plants go dormant and disappear to escape the blazing sun, with most of the bulbs that will and annuals only beginning to germinate when the rains come, which is now, during the fall season. So while the deciduous trees and shrubs are now dropping their foliage, the bulbs and annuals are waking up, such as the wild Lupines. So most plants bloom starting now and will come to a stop once the summer comes round again. This is also when we plant out the ornamental annuals- due to the winters still being somewhat considerably warmer.
Here is the discreet bloom of Cyclamen persica which is out now. This plant has so much genetic diversity, which is obvious in all of its intricately patterned foliage which differs from one plant to the next. . It is discreet in the sense that it is so close to the ground that it is very easily overlooked. The corms that the blooms and foliage come from can reach the size of a softball, and this plant happily seeds itself everywhere.

As you can see here in the nook of a rock, this cyclamen has happily decided to grow, and is extremely self sufficient.
Here is Pancratium sickenbergeri which is now in seed which grows on the coastal dunes of the Mediterranean. It's seeds, which are inside this black casing, are devised to float due to a spongy layer that is between the outer black part and the actual seed. This helps to ensure future generations settling onto different parts of the Mediterranean coast by floating to new destinations.These is a demonstration area to show how people used to have their allotment gardens. The beds were laid out in a very simple fashion and these gardens integrated vegetables, fruit, and small orchards. What I found interesting was this small stone building which was common when these allotment gardens existed. These were used as a means of shelter to help watch over your crops when they were close to harvest time. What people would do was stay in the bottom part of it in the cooler months to protect yourself from the cold weather and in the warmer months they would stay in the top part, which was covered with material to protect oneself from the harsh sun. This was done so you could be there to make sure no one stole or looted the fruits of your labor, which happened quite often. We were able to see where they store and clean seeds that have been collected.
Sometimes plant names make me laugh, like Aparagus horridus. Bad!Bad asparagus! It just gives a funny visual to me of the one that we love to eat. The Hebrew University was right next door to the gardens and the campus grounds were very lush and inviting. Ficus pumila scrambles up the sides of some of the buildings.
There were sculptures by different artists that were situated troughout the campus too.

A mix of opuntia and geraniums.

Ahh, fall color.

1 comment:

  1. Jimmy, great to catch up with you again. Thanks for giving me a glimpse og Jerusalem I don't usually get to see. The plants. I was just in Italy working, cyclamen and sterbergia blooming there too. And opuntias running wild. I wonder where you'll end up next .... D.