I had read something about this Botanical Gardens online but never met anyone who had actually been there. It was only a 20 minute drive away so when the sun came out we decided it looked like a cool place to visit. Called the Emek Hefer Ornamental Gardens, I would say this is a bit of a misnomer in English because “ornamental” suggests something more tame and cultivated. These gardens were created in 1949 to make a large collection and storage area for every kind of tree and plant that might be suitable to grow in the country. At that time the pioneers and early settlers coming to the Holy Land knew very little about the soil and climate of this area, and did not really know which plants would succeed here and which were unsuitable. So they made this place as a sort of lab to research which trees and flowers would thrive here. On arrival at the gardens we got a free introduction to the place with Tomer, one of the volunteers, who gave us a short history and then presented us with a large folder of information, and told us to go around on our own. We had his phone number if we should need any other help. The place is pretty large and divided into different areas according to different varieties of plant- succulents, deciduous etc, but there are also areas like little allotments where local students grow seedlings and herbs. Also many workshops on plant identification and growing techniques are conducted here.
Entry to the place is free of charge.
The place was beautiful and very varied. We loved the massive cacti and the extremely old trees too.
Some of the trees were very ancient. Here is the most ancient tree in the country,Prosopis Alba , the Argentine Mesquite
We meandered around the 50 dunams of the park, enjoying the solitude and quiet, and saw only a few other visitors. I think we will be back there soon, especially as D is thinking about volunteering there.
I can’t identify all the flowers and plants, maybe you can.
I think it’s a highly recommended visit if you are in the area. The gardens are open every day from 9-13 and on Saturdays till 14.00 and entrance and parking are free of charge.