March is upon us, and the spring is showing all around us in every color and shape. The garden is blooming and festive this time of year – wonderful flowering patches of annuals and geophytes blooming accompanying the trees and shrubs waking up and covering themselves with wonderful coats of flowers.
There is so much going on, and we’re sure to skip some – but we’ll try to direct you to the prettier spots.
We’re starting at the entrance lake. During summer we sent you to see the wonderful Nelumbo flowers in the lake. Now the water plants are dormant, it is still too cold for them. But this is mating season for the frogs. In the lake and in the garden’s ponds there are many common frogs, and they are singing their courting songs. With a little luck you can spot a male frog pumping its cheeks to impress the females. Look for them in the lake! And don’t forget the Nymphaea has started to bloom.
After you have reached the South Africa section from the lake, lift your head and look up on your right for the Safari Conebush – Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’ with its spectacular orange-red colors. This is a beautiful shrub of the Proteaceae family, a cultivated hybrid created by a New-Zealand horticulturist between 2 South African species.
Another interesting plant in the South Africa section is the Golden Sage – Salvia aurea, which is starting to bloom at the section these days. This Sage blooms in bronze! Similarly to the local three-lobed sage, this sage is considered an important medicinal herb in traditional medicine. It is also a water saving plant.
Last month we sent you to admire all the Aloe species blooming in the South Africa section, and all the birds they attract: sunbirds, chiffchaffs and others. It is still not too late to visit this section and enjoy the Aloe blossoms: Mountain Aloe (Aloe marlothii) is blooming these days with large orange-red inflorescences. Search for other aloes nearby.
A beautiful bulbous flower blooming these days in the South Africa section and in the flower-beds at the garden’s entrance is the Bulbinella. This is an impressive geophyte with a tall raceme, and in the garden you can see four different species: Bulbinella nutans, here in yellow; Bulbinella latifolia, here in orange; Bulbinella cauda-felis, blooming in white; and Bulbinella floribunda, also in yellow.
Continuing in the South Africa section, the Arctotis x hybrid flowers with the silvery leaves are creating colorful carpets. Together with the Gazania flowers – which are also Composite flowers that originate in South Africa, they fill flower-beds and attract the eye with a variety of colors.
Most of the Daffodils have already finished blooming – but this is the time of the Wild Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus). This is a large-flowered Daffodil that originates in France and Spain, in regions that get summer rains. This is why it can survive flower-beds that get water year-round. He blooms later than most of the Daffodils, and these days it is smiling at us from different corners in the Europe section.
Continuing in the Europe section, we’ll find an impressive shrub blooming in vivid yellow: this is the Albanian Forsythia (Forsythia europaea). It’s a shrub of the olive family, each flower has 4 elongated petals. It is named after William Forsyth, an 18th century Botanist and Horticulturist, who was one of the founders of the RHS – the British Royal Horticulture Society.
If you visited Prague in springtime, you probably noticed the Forsythia shrubs blooming all over the city – it is quite common in the city’s gardening and landscaping, and in spring it makes the entire city shine in yellow. The Forsythia is suitable for gardening in the mountain regions.
Let’s go up to the upper parts of the Europe section, above the restaurant. Here you can find the Euphorbia hierosolymitana blooming in greenish-yellow. Even though it looks as if our gardeners have worked hard to design the shape of this shrublet, it’s actually untrue: this shrub grows naturally in a very designed and organized form. Its Latin name means Jerusalem’s spurge, and it is one of several plants named after the city.
When was the last time you’ve been to see spring in California? One of the common genera in the western US is the Ceanothus: there are about 80 different species, they cover mountain slopes and bloom in a variety of violet-blue-white colors. In our garden you can see the Catalina Mountain Ceanothus (Ceanothus arboreus): it’s a shrub of the Rhamnaceae family, with gentle violet-lilac colored flowers and a pleasant smell. These features gave it its common name: California Lilac – though it’s not related at all to the European Lilac.
Moving on to the Australia section, where several Acacia trees are blooming. On the path going up from the Tropical Conservatory as well as in other places in the section you can see the Early Green Wattle (Acacia decurrens). This tree is covered with elongated inflorescences of pompom-like Acacia flowers. The result is a tree laden with beautiful raceme blossoms.
We’ll look at 2 additional Acacia species now in bloom – First we’ll meet the Clay Wattle (Acacia glaucoptera) and a few steps further is the Knife-leaf Wattle (Acacia cultriformis). In both of these species the leaves have decayed and vanished, and instead – the stems are winged and it is they that are photosynthetic. The result is eye-catching: naturally shaped plants, which are impressive when they are not in bloom, but even more so when they are.
In the Asia section you can find Small-Fruited Cherry (Prunus microcarpa), last year’s plant of the month, in full bloom. This is a shrub with delicate slender branches, and when it’s covered with flowers – it’s a feast for the eye.
The royal Coastal Iris (Iris atropurpurea) is now blooming at the sandy area of the Asia section. This is the first of the Royal Irises to bloom. The Coastal Iris grows only in Israel’s coastal plains, between Atlit and Ashkelon. In nature it is finishing these days, but here in Jerusalem it blooms now, come and enjoy it!
We said that spring time is the time for colorful patches – and if you haven’t seen the wonderful blue patches of Mountain Lupine (Lupinus pilosus) – now is the time! In nature these Lupines cover fields, and in our garden – the Asia section is now radiating in blue! Look for pink ones, color mutations that are hidden in the blue carpets.
Among the Lupines you can see light wooly tall racemes: these are the inflorescences of Desert Spike (Eremostachys laciniata), a wildflower that grows in the Eastern Mediterranean, central and western Asia.
Another flower you can see among the Lupines as well as in the section’s upper trail are tall inflorescences with unique warm orange-yellow flowers. This is the King’s Spear (Asphodeline lutea), a common Israeli wildflower. Note its unique flower.
Under the Lupines you can find white patches of Helmet Clover (Trifolium clypeatum). This Clover covers patches in semi-shaded areas, and you can see it in the Asia section.
If we’ll look up from the wonderful Lupines and Trifoliums, we can see the Rosaceae fruit trees glowing with flowers. One of them is the Pyrus syriaca – the Syrian pear, in the picture. The Syrian pear is related to the cultivated pear, and is used as rootstock for grafting. In the garden there are about 15 Pear species, as well as Apples, Peaches, Cherries and Hawthorns – and now is the time to see them blooming.
The Jerusalem Sage, Salvia hierosolymitana, is starting to bloom at the Mediterranean section. This sage blooms in pink in the mountains of the Mediterranean region in Israel, but only near Jerusalem does it get the impressive maroon colors. This is a beautiful water saving flower. Look for its seeds in the garden’s shop.
The Tree Spurge (Euphorbia dendroides) is blooming now at the Mediterranean section, with lemony-green inflorescences. This is an impressive Mediterranean shrub – in Israel it is endangered and found only at Wadi Siach in the Carmel.
We won’t forget to visit the Tropical Conservatory. Visiting the conservatory is always an exhilarating experience. In the conservatory’s desert section you can find our plant of the month: the Papyrus Sedge (Cyperus papyrus). This is a large and impressive Sedge, from which the Ancient Egyptians produced the Papyrus, the first paper.
Do you remember that on January we sent you to look at Boissier’s Barbbell – Trichodesma boissieri in the desert section of the tropical conservatory? Well, it is still blooming, with its spectacular light blue flowers. You’re welcome to read more about it here.
Exactly one year ago our Geophyte terrace near the garden’s nursery, up in the gardens, was renewed and reopened. At the terrace’s entrance we’ll find dense flower-bed full of blooming Tulipa gesneriana, in memory of Asa Uzilevsky.
The Geophyte terrace and the plants of the month corner are full of over 450 species of flowering geophytes from Israel and all over the world. Among them you can see Lachenalia aloides with dense orange-maroon flowers. This is a South-African geophyte that can be seen in the South Africa section as well as here.
And we must not forget the local species: did you know there is an Allium named after the first Hebrew city? We’re referring to Allium tel-avivense, the Tel-Aviv Allium that blooms in delicate pink color.
We’ll finish our tour at the flower-bed around the classroom in the garden offices area. In this flower-bed we planted several rare and unique plants, some of them are already blooming. We want to draw your attention to a tall flower of the Brassicaceae family: Arabis turrita with cream flowers, and fruit that look like long ribbons.
Spring is here, and in our garden you can move between the flowers of the different continents with just few steps: come visit the garden and see the wonders of spring around us!