Jerusalem is graced with magnificent public gardens, most notably the 30-acre Jerusalem Botanical Gardens and the Wohl Rose Garden.
Israel’s capital city also has what we’d call “hidden” gardens – beautifully manicured spaces that are not well known and can take a little sleuthing to locate.
Mount Scopus Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden for Israeli Flora on the campus of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus was founded in 1931 by university botanist Prof. Otto Verburg and botany and phytogeography expert Alexander Eig. This charming six-acre ecological conservatory houses more than 950 species, representing over 40 percent of the wild plant species of Israel. Flourishing in the unique climate of Mount Scopus, the plants were gathered from Mediterranean scrub, desert grasslands, Negev mountain ranges, coastal sand dunes, bodies of water and traditional orchards.
The Mount Scopus Botanical Garden also contains an archeological site: ancient burial caves from the Second Temple period. Buried here is Nicanor of Alexandria, who donated the copper doors of the Temple. Zionist leaders Dr. Yehuda Leib Pinsker and Menachem Ussishkin also were buried in the Nicanor caves.
Tucked behind the luxury hotels and residences on King David Street, the 19th century David Amar World Center for Jewish Heritage in North Africa complex boasts a beautiful courtyard garden with an authentic Moroccan design. Known as the Andalusian Garden, this urban gem encompasses unique mosaic arcades filled with flowers and shrubs. Along the arcades are three authentic Moroccan fountains connected to a constantly flowing water channel. Instant serenity.
Jerusalem International YMCA Garden
Looking at the landmark YMCA and its iconic 152-foot bell tower from the main entrance, you would miss the lovely garden behind the 1920s edifice’s Three Arches Hotel. Designed by sculptor Israel Hadany, this garden was planted on part of the land that served as the home field for the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team until 1991. Hadany included a set of white pergolas with sculptured motifs and a picturesque waterfall and canal running through the site.
Orson Hyde Memorial Park
The 5.5-acre Orson Hyde Memorial Park on the western slope of the Mount of Olives lies across from the better-known Garden of Gethsemane mentioned in the Gospels. The park was inaugurated in 1979 by Spencer W. Kimball, then president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in memory of LDS apostle Orson Hyde, who was said to have had a prophetic vision on the Mount of Olives while visiting in 1841. Designed by Lepa Yahalom and Dan Tzur, Hyde Park includes walking paths, a 150-seat stone amphitheater and landscaping that allows for excellent views of the Kidron Valley, Temple Mount and Old City. The garden contains a host of flowers and herbs including rosemary, wild lemon, thyme, oregano, lavender, dwarf ivy, water lilies, as well as olive trees.
Hadassah Healing Garden
Spending time outside in a garden can positively affect our emotions and improve our sense of wellbeing. That is the concept behind the Healing and Environmental Garden at Hadassah University Medical Center’s Mount Scopus campus.
This garden was developed with the support of Friends of JNF Australia, led by the Jack and Robert Smorgon Families Foundation, “to meet the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of the children and adults treated at Hadassah,” and especially children and youth with chronic illnesses.
The beautifully landscaped space includes green lawns, flowerbeds, a vegetable garden, medicinal herbs, a wooden promenade, an observation deck and a small amphitheater, as well as colorful playground equipment.
“The healing effect of nature, together with the relaxing sounds of running water, will contribute to the health of those who visit this garden,” said Jack Smorgon at the inauguration of the garden in June 2014.