Most of the summer has passed, but the heat is still on. Flowering is scarce yet very special, and there is plenty to see in the garden. The recommended hours to visit are the afternoon hours, when the temperatures are more comfortable and light breeze comes over.
Along the summer we admired the wonderful blossoms of Nelumbo nucifera, the “Sacred Lotus” in the entrance lake. Now we invite you to appreciate the plant in fruit.
The fruit is shaped like a shower-head and is composed of a receptacle (the end of the flower stalk upon which the floral/fruit organs are borne) and on it sit united carpels that each of them, following pollination, contains a seed.
When the fruit dries, holes open in the fruit and the fresh seeds fall from them.
The seeds are edible and also used in traditional medicine mainly in India.
Our plant of the month is currently blooming in the South-Africa section: Amaryllis belladonna. It has big and impressive flowers in shades of pink and even white. This is a water-saving plant that doesn’t need irrigation. You can purchase Amaryllis belladonna bulbs now, plant them in a sunny location without irrigation.
Banksia shrub is starting to bloom in the Australia section. We can recognize the Banksia shrubs by the rigid, elongated, serrated leaves. In the garden there are two close species: Banksia integrifolia and Banksia serrata. Both originate in Eastern Australia. According to Noam, the garden’s curator, both species were brought to the garden – but we’re still unable to tell them apart and we’re not sure which one is currently blooming.
Another shrub currently blooming in the Australia section is Eremophila drummondii – a shrub from South-Western Australia with pink tubular flowers. This shrub is drought and frost resistant, likes well-drained soil and can be found in gardening in Israel.
In the picture you can see an interesting phenomenon: a wild bee, Xylocopa pubescens, robbing nectar from the flower! The bee is too big to enter the flower from the front like honey-bees, and its tongue is not long enough to reach the nectar like butterflies. In order to get to the nectar, it punches a hole at the flower’s side and drinks the nectar through it. This way the bee gains the nectar, but doesn’t pollinate the flower. This behavior is called “nectar robbing” or “nectar foraging” – the bee takes the reward, without providing the pollination services.
In the Asia section it’s fruit time! You’re welcome to stroll along the path and look for fruit of Hawthorn, Pomegranate, Figs, Honeysuckle and others.
Today we’re focusing on the Common Jujube – Ziziphus jujube. This is a tree that originates from the Caucasus to China, and grown as an edible fruit tree for thousands of years. The Jujube has sweet fruit that can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried. The recommendation is to wait until they dry on the tree, and then gather and eat them – that’s when their taste improves.
The Common Jujube is also known as a medicinal plant. According to traditional Chinese medicine it is used to strengthen the immune system, improve muscle mass and more. We’ll remind you that the Jujube is a relative of the local Ziziphus spina-christi, whose fruit are also edible.
In the Asia section and in the Europe section the pears are ripening. The fruit drop to the ground even before ripening, and ripen only then. This is typical for trees that try to attract mammals such as deer, boar and bears to disperse their seeds: these mammals can’t reach the fruit on the tree, but they will eat the fruit that fell to the ground and then disperse the seeds with their feces.
There are approximately 15 pear species in the garden. In the picture you can see Pyrus korshinskyi that originates in the Caucasus region and Pyrus boissieriana that originates in Iran, Turkmenistan and the Transcaucasus.
Next to the main path in the Asia section, near Dafna gate, Abraham’s balm, Vitex agnus-castus, is still blooming. Many butterflies, mainly of the Lycaenidae family (such as Azanus jesous in the picture), are attracted to it – and we recommend stopping and enjoying the many butterflies hovering around the shrub.
Abraham’s balm grows in Israel near streams. Its common name comes from the tradition that the ram from Isaac’s binding biblical story entangled in this shrub.
We would also mention that although in nature it grows along wet streams, in gardening it is considered a zero-water saver, one that does not need any irrigation.
We mentioned the Amaryllis belladonna, and we won’t forget Drimia maritima that is starting to bloom in the Mediterranean section in the garden, as well as all over the country these days.
The Drimia maritima has a big bulb, in which it stores water and food during winter, so it can bloom in the second half of summer and attract pollinators with almost no competition.
When it’s hot, it’s good practice to stop for a rest in the shade, and Oak trees supply lots of the shade in the garden. There are over 70 Oak species in the garden, brought and nurtured by the late Dr. Michael Avishai, one of the garden’s founders.
Today we’re looking at Mount Tabor Oak – Quercus ithaburensis – note its big and beautiful acorns (in the picture, you can compare them to the little acorn of Golden Oak).
In the past, Mount Tabor Oak was common in all the Sharon and Lower Galilee regions, but in the early 20th century the Turkish felled down most of the Oak forests in the Sharon, and today only few groves remain. Did you know that the word “Sharon” actually means forest?
The Asa Uzilevsky memorial Geophyte terrace is starting to wake. The South-African Ornithogalum saundersiae is blooming at the terrace flower-bed. This is a beautiful flower, used also as an ornamental flower for bouquets. Unlike many geophytes, this plant comes from regions with summer-rains, blooming usually at the end of summer and used as an ornamental flower.
In the geophyte terrace and in the plant-of-the-month corner the pre-autumn flowers are starting. Look for Cyclamen rohflesianum, an endemic Libyan Cyclamen, and Cyclamen maritimum from the shores of Turkey.