February 28th 2014
Perched on the edge of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s campus in Givat Ram, the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens make up a beautiful, serene and eye-opening green space. In total, more than 10,000 species of plant life are cultivated by the university’s experts. A series of streams and ponds flows throughout, with a recreational miniature train ride available to children and a café with outdoor seating serving refreshments and meals throughout the day. The Botanical Gardens also host workshops, fairs and concerts periodically throughout the year.
The grounds here are divided into five major exhibits: the Dworsky Tropical Conservatory, the Bible Trail, the African Savannah grass maze, the Bonsai area and the various outdoor sections, which showcase native vegetation from the regions of South Africa, Europe, North America, Australia, Asia and the Mediterranean.
Since they represent flora from so many different regions, you’re sure to find a great deal in bloom any time of year while wandering around the outdoor sections. Arranging the gardens according to the geographical origin of the plants helps the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens conserve water, since each region’s plants have different irrigation needs.
Currently closed for renovation and expansion, the Dworsky Tropical Conservatory features plants that thrive in the rainforest as well as a section of plants that are beneficial to humans, either for their medicinal qualities or as food.
The Bible Trail is one of the features that distinguishes the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens from any other in the world. It’s a path, about a third of a mile long, lined with 70 of the 400 types of vegetation mentioned in the Bible. An audio guide to the Bible Trail is available at the ticket booth and is recommended for getting the most out of this section.
The African Savannah grass maze, located in the South African section, is an attraction designed especially for kids. Made of African thatching grass, children are challenged to not only find their way through the maze, but also to identify specific plants within the maze.
Finally, the Bonsai exhibit features over 300 Bonsai, a Japanese form of sculpture made from miniature trees. The Gardens are highly committed to representing the art of Bonsai in Israel. They offer the largest Bonsai school in Israel and sponsor an annual Bonsai exhibit and competition each summer. Don’t miss the Japanese cherry trees while exploring the Bonsai exhibit.
Guided tours in English are offered every Thursday at 11 AM, and the visitors’ train runs through the gardens five times every weekday.