The development of botanical research and teaching
in Israel is closely associated with the development of settlement in
this country. In 1926, a first lot of land was purchased on Mt.
Scopus, with the support of the Montague Lamport family, for the
purpose of establishing the Botanical Garden of the Hebrew
University in Jerusalem.
Professor Alexander Eig, Head of the Botany Department of the Hebrew
University, prepared a plan for the Garden, based on representation
of the main flora of the land of Israel from Mt. Lebanon to the desert.
Planting began in 1931, and the period until the outbreak
of the War
of Independence in 1948 saw unhindered development of the
Botanical Garden. With the division of Jerusalem at the end of the war,
the connection with the University campus and, consequently, the garden
on Mt. Scopus was discontinued. In 1954, the erection of a new University
campus was started on the Giv'at Ram Hill in West Jerusalem, and it
was decided to create a new Botanical Garden. It became located between
the administration building in the north and the National Library in
the south and adjacent to the buildings of the Botany Department. The
teachers of the Botany Department, Prof. M. Zahary, Prof. M. Even-Ari
and Prof. A. Fahn, were involved in the planning of the Garden, which
was led by L. Halperin, an American landscape architect, and the Israeli
garden planners S. Oren, Y. Segal and D. Seidenberg. The Giv'at Ram
Botanical Garden was planned in accordance with landscape considerations
and by employing botanical classifications. The maximum number of species
was about 800.
The unique trees of the garden include a collection
of Coniferae; among these are the conspicuous Sequoia Sempervirens and
Sequoiadendron giganteum, which now rise above the surrounding buildings.
The development needs of the Hebrew University, at that time the country's
only university, coupled with the special needs of the Garden, led to
the decision to move the Garden to a new, separate site, close to the
southeastern corner of the University campus. Planting in the desolate
rocky soil began in 1962; the first plantation was a grove of conifers
from North America.
In the mid-sixties, the economic crisis, the recession
and the decision to restore the Mt. Scopus campus prevented the University
from dedicating means and efforts to development of the Garden. The
difficulties prevailed until 1975; only with the establishment of the
Society of Friends of the Botanical Gardens, under the leadership of
Nehama Ben Ze'ev, the situation changed.
At a meeting held in the office of Abraham Herman,
President of the Hebrew University,
with the participation of Teddy Kollek, Mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Rivlin,
Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish National Fund, Nehama Ben Ze'ev
and Prof. A. Fahn, representing the Botanical Department, it was decided
to make the Botanical Garden a joint project of the University, the
City of Jerusalem and the Jewish
National Fund. This was done to divide
the burden of development and maintenance among the three bodies. Also,
a scientific board was appointed to guide the scientific activity and
the development of the Garden. The architect S. Aharonson was entrusted
with planning of the Garden. The first step was the development of an
area of approx. 16 thousand square meters for plants from Southwest
and Central Asia, donated by Irene and Hyman Kreitman; an additional
part was developed in 1979 for plants from the Mediterranean basin.
The great efforts made and the rate of development
of the Garden led the founding bodies to decide in 1981 on the establishment
of the Garden Association. This was carried out jointly by the six bodies
that founded the Garden in its new form: The Hebrew University, the
City of Jerusalem, the Jewish National Fund, the Jerusalem Fund, the
CG Fund and the Society of Friends of the Botanic Gardens. An executive
board and a manager were appointed for the Association. This was a turning
point, which led to accelerated development of the Garden and, accordingly,
to increased investments.
In 1985, the Garden was
opened to the public; in the summer of 1986,
the tropical greenhouse, donated by F. Dvorsky,
was inaugurated. Planting on the South African
lot began in 1989, and in 1990 the development
of a compound, close to the Cohen Family
Lake and including the Hank Greenspan Entrance
Piazza, the Dvorsky Visitors' Center and
a restaurant, was started.
In 1994, it was decided to effect administrative separation
of the Botanical Garden from the Hebrew University and to form a self-administered
association; for the first time, a general manager was appointed for
the Garden and dedicated subcommittees were established within the executive
board. Since October 1996, the Garden is managed by the Botanical Garden
Association and constitutes an independent legal entity. The proximity
to the University enables the Botanical Garden to maintain research
and teaching relations with scientists and lecturers in the various
departments of the Hebrew University. Its location in the area of National
City, next to the Knesset and along the “avenue of museums,” reflects
the values it endeavors to impart to the
culture of plants and to the Israeli culture.
The Botanical Gardens are located at Burla Street in
Hours of admission are Sunday through Thursday, 10am-2pm and 10am-4pm
in the Winter months.
There is an entrance fee.
Phone number: 972-2-6794012