Summer is here: we’re feeling hot, and so do the plants. The recommended areas in the garden are the various ponds and the shaded woody areas. The best hours are the twilight hours, when the light is especially magical.
We’ll start our tour in the entrance garden beds, where our plant of the month is currently blooming: the Wandflower, Gaura lindheimeri. At the entrance you can see Gaura lindheimeri ‘The Bride‘ blooming in white, while in the North-America section it is joined by 2 other garden variants – Gaura lindheimeri ‘Pink Lady‘ and Gaura lindheimeri ‘Pink‘ in shades of pink-white. The Gaura is a sun-loving plant and resilient in a variety of conditions.
Stop by the entrance lake, and enjoy the flowers: the lake is covered with carpets of colorful Nymphaeas and Nelumbos. The Nelumbo is known as “The Sacred Lotus”, and this year it is covering most of the entrance lake.
The common Moorhen family that lives in the garden had a happy occasion: four young Moorhens hatched, and now they swim between the Nelumbo plants. The Nelumbos are a wonderful home for them: they shade the lake, keeping the water cool, they provide shelter and protection from predators, and they attract bugs that the Moorhens can eat. Look for them among the flowers!
At the edges of the lake, at the stream and ponds of the North America section we can find the Pickerelweed – Pontederia cordata -that was our plant-of-the-month last year.
The Pontederia is an important plant in its natural ecosystem: many wildlife, from bugs, through ducks and fish, and even deer enjoy it in its native location.
In the pools and the stream at the North-America section you can see Canna flaccida, blooming in yellow. It originates in south-eastern United States, from Florida to Texas. Alongside it are blooming other Canna species, such as the red-flowered Canna indica, that in spite of its name originates in Southern and Central America, Canna sp. ‘Erebus’ – a pink-flowered hybrid and Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’, an orange-flowered hybrid. Canna flowers are magnificent summer-flowers, that completely disappear during winter time.
If you are looking for some shade, we’ll recommend the lawn in the North America section: the American Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, that stood in wonderful autumn colors during autumn and early winter, which is why it was our plant of the month last December, grew a fresh, bright green foliage. They invite us to get closer and enjoy their shade.
At the South-Africa section Lion’s tail – Leonotis leonurus – is blooming in wonderful green. This is a shrublet that was once popular in gardening, and is making a comeback in recent years. It is medium sized and can be incorporated into live fences. It attracts sunbirds and has long blooming period: from early summer to the end of autumn. It is a real water-saver, once established can be irrigated only during summer, once in two-three week.
As part of our work in the garden, we’re looking for Israeli plants that can be used for gardening. African Foxtail Grass, Cenchrus ciliaris is a beautiful grass, with wide distribution, that grows in the majority of Africa, the Middle East, all the way to India. It is less aggressive than Oriental Fountain Grass, Cenchrus orientalis, which is common in roadside gardening. We hope to add this plant as a garden plant in Israel, after several years of observation.
In the Europe section the Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum × superbum) are waking up and smiling at us. The Shasta Daisy is a hybrid created by the American horticulturist Walter Burbank at the end of the 19th century. It is a cross of 4 species:
the wide-spread Euro-Asian Leucanthemum vulgare,
Leucanthemum maximum from the Pyrenees,
Leucanthemum lacustre from Portugal
Nipponanthemum nipponicum from Japan.
Burbank named it Shasta Daisy after Mount Shasta in California, which was close to where he worked. The Shasta Daisy is a wonderful plant for the mountain region, it fills flowerbeds with dense leaves and blooms in early summer. It can be easily split if it’s too crowded or if you wish to propagate it.
A beautiful tree from the Mallow plant family is blooming nowadays in the Australia section: Norfolk Island Hibiscus, Lagunaria patersonia, that originates from Norfolk Islands and Lord Howe Island near Australia. It is resistant to the salty sea-spray, but be careful and do not touch it! The flowers and fruit are covered with burning hairs!
Still in the Australia section – do not miss the big flower-bed of Blue Flax Lily, Dianella caerulea var. assera, with its wonderful blue-purple fruit. The fruits remain on the plant, and attract birds. They enjoy eating the fruit and dispersing the seeds.
Another beautiful wild grass, the adaptation of which for local gardening we’re researching, is Melica persica. You can see its impressive flower-bed next to the main road in the Asia section. Melica seems like a beautiful grass, filling the area with delicate white feathers. It grows in most of central Asia, from the Middle East to China, and of course in Israel – from the Judean mountains to Mount Hermon.
When you reach the end of the Melica persica flower bed in the Asia section, look across the stream near the main road. Two modest flowers are blooming there: Dyer’s Madder, Rubia tinctorum that grows in two locations in Israel along the Jordan river, from which cloth-dye was extracted in the past; and Long-Spiked Woundwort, Stachys longispicata, which grows at the edges of channels, swamps and streams, mostly in the Hula valley. Both are clear wetland plants, endangered habitats that decrease due to human activity. The Botanical Garden is helping in preserving these plants.
At the upper trail in the Asia section, as well as near Guggenheim pond in the Mediterranean section, Abraham’s balm – Vitex agnus-castus – is blooming. It is an impressive shrub with wonderful violet blossoms that grows along streams in Israel.
According to tradition, this was the shrub where the ram got entangled, thus allowing Abraham to catch and sacrifice it in the story of the Binding of Isaac. Its common name originates from this story. This plant is also a water-saving plant, that is much recommended for gardening.
In the Sunlight pool at the northern end of the Mediterranean section we grow rare water-plants from our region, plants who suffer from sever habitat destruction. You can see Yarkon Nut-grass (Cyperus corymbosus), Cirsium gaillardotii and in the picture – Spear-Leaved Dogbane (Trachomitum venetum). The Spear-Leaved Dogbane is beautiful now while blooming, but it is just as beautiful during autumn, when its foliage turns red before fall.
We’ll end our tour, as usual, in the “Plant of the Month” corner next to the nursery. Hormuzakia negevensis is blooming here these days.
Hormuzakia negevensis is one of the rarest plant in the world – in nature there are only about 20 individuals, all growing in the same location at Yamin plane. It was discovered in the early 1990’s and was described by the late Prof. Avinoam Danin. Cuttings were taken from the only natural site, and these days you can see it in Mamshit refuge garden, as well as in our garden.