After having read a bit about orchids last week, I’d been thinking that I wanted to see more; that I wanted the pleasure of their company. It’s so easy to fall into a routine. I often take my daily walk in the same place. Watch the flowers appear and blossom in the spring. Enjoy the summer flowers too, the trees in my neighborhood, and of course, the bushes and the vines, as well as the wild plants that can be found not far from my home. But one of the advantages of living in the city, is that there are numerous projects, within easy access, where one can enjoy intensive exposure to all kinds of study and experimentation, including the study of nature.
Here in Jerusalem, for instance, we have two separate botanical gardens, where one can walk and explore the plant life found in different areas of the world. It’s been so long since the last time I visited one of those beautiful gardens, that even the pleasure I’d enjoyed was something of a distant memory. So it was time to visit once again.
My favorite botanical garden, where I used to visit more often, with my parents, when my father was still alive, is found on Givat Ram, the little hill in the middle of Jerusalem, where the national museum, and one of the campuses of the Hebrew University are also found. The garden makes its way from behind the university to the bottom of the hill, where there’s a nice little lake where I like to watch the black swans swimming across the water in their very elegant postures. At the edge of the lake, there’s a very nice restaurant where you can enjoy a good lunch, or can just sit and drink a cup of coffee and have a piece of cake while contemplating the water and the swans.
This week there was also the opportunity for people watching. It’s summer… vacation time. The kids are out of school and a lot of the adults are on vacation too. And so, the restaurant was full of happy customers, and children were found in groups, touring the park and in very small groups of friends, studying bushes and trees, some of whom have relatives in the holy land… but there are variations almost unknown to us. For instance, we are very fond of eucalyptus trees, and they are found all over northern Israel (imported from Australia more than a hundred years ago). But here we saw numerous types of eucalyptus that I’ve seen nowhere else. One, with a white bark that really stands out in a forest of trees, and some very interesting shapes.
And there were some very tall banana trees unlike those raised in Israel, in large groves, particularly for their fruit. Reading the little signs that are placed next to the different trees and bushes was an education in itself. The signs are printed in Hebrew and Latin, and this gives us an opportunity to see things from a slightly different perspective. Who would guess that the lilac tree would be called vulgar? But there it was on the sign, “Syringa vulgaris”, for the white flowered, small lilac tree, which is found in south eastern Europe, according to the sign.
And aside from the natural riches which are on display in the park, there is also a beautiful museum, attractive, both inside and out. There was an exhibition of paper art on display. I have seen such work in the past, and I always find it fascinating. Perhaps I will dedicate a special post, just to that subject.
Wandering through the park, I photographed much more than I was aware of. It was only when I was back at home, and started looking at the photographs, that I realized how hypnotic this walk had been… how I had been steered by the unique composition of the park from one impressive natural plant to the next. What had made the biggest impression on me, while I was there, was that I hadn’t gotten to some things I had set out to see… like sequoia trees for instance, which I am always homesick for, since I learned to love them in California. I did see some beautiful orchids, but that will have to wait till the next post.