Monday, 6 April 2020

The Argaman Iris Reserve

I know we aren't allowed to be out and about right now, but I am going to keep posting about some of the beautiful places I have visited in Israel and hope they can help you plan for future days out.
The Argaman Iris Reserve is located in Ir Yamin, a neighbourhood in the Mediterranean resort city of Netanya. The reserve is one of only a very few places in Israel where you can see the colourful Coastal Iris, or Iris Atropurpurea. The Irises start to bloom in the middle of January and reach their peak in mid-February. The blooming lasts till the beginning of March.
The Coastal Iris is a unique species that can be found only in Israel and Syria. It is known as 'Irus haArgaman' in Hebrew and 'Saoosan (al-Sahel)' in Arabic. 'Argaman' is Hebrew for purple. It is also known as the 'Negev Iris' in Swedish. The botanical name atropurpurea refers to 'atro-purpureus' meaning dark purple coloured.
The Iris takes its name from the Greek word for a rainbow, referring to the wide variety of colours, from red through deep purple to almost black, found among the species. Iris was the rainbow goddess of Greek mythology who used rainbows as a bridge to carry messages from the gods to mankind.
The Coastal Iris used to be plentiful in the coastal plain of Israel but, due to massive urbanisation, it has dramatically decreased in numbers. In 1959 the flower was listed as threatened by extinction but by 1964 a law was established in Israel to protect the ten species of iris endemic to the region. In the same year the Nature Reserves Authority was established and the flower is now considered a high conservation priority.
The iris is currently only found in nature reserves such as the Argaman Iris Reserve, as well as at Iris Hill in Ness Ziona, which we visited back in 2014. Populations of the iris can also be found in the Beit Netufa Valley which has 60 species of unique plants in danger of extinction.
People come by the thousands every year to the Argaman Iris Reserve to see the flowers in bloom. The reserve is now confined to 400-600 dunam of land, wedged between two housing projects and the Ir Yamim beachfront. The Netanya Municipality is working hard to preserve and enhance the reserve to ensure the survival of one of the rarest flowers that grow in Israel.
During our short walk we were lucky enough to see hundreds of Coastal Iris. We enjoyed the beautiful flowers, bushes of White Broom, or Rotem Ha Midbar, and gorgeous panoramic views. The reserve is a lovely place to enjoy some nature inside the city and the collection of dark purple irises make it a unique and magnificent habitat. 

Thursday, 2 April 2020

The Three "E"s

I have been making birthday cards for Eden for a number of years. Last year she was on the same mechina (pre-army programme) as my eldest son and that was what featured on her 19th birthday card. She is now a soldier in the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) so this year, for her 20th birthday, her mum asked me to show Eden in uniform on her card. Mum pointed out the aiguillette or sroch in Hebrew, an ornamental braided cord which she wears on the left shoulder of her uniform to indicate her specific role in the army. I was also asked to include Eden's boyfriend on the card, so I dressed him in his air force madei alef, the formal beige uniform which pilots wear for ceremonies.
Eden has long been interested in makeup. Mum sent me a photo of her current favourite brand, Huda Beauty and I added a tiny eye-shadow palette in similar colours, makeup brushes and a lipstick. A big number 20 marks her age.
Ella and Shai recently moved in to their first home together so Ella's parents asked me to make the the young couple a "Happy New Home" card. They were very specific with their request. I should show the couple outside a house - not an apartment - holding the key to their front door. There should also be a sign outside saying "Welcome to Givon" (Givon is an Israel settlement northwest of Jerusalem). I am not sure that the "house" I illustrated looks exactly like the one that the couple now live in but you get the idea...
Finally Emily, our third young lady with a name beginning with 'E', was turning 23. Her auntie requested a card using a Bongo's Bingo theme. Apparently Bongo's Bingo consists of several rounds of bingo interspersed with rave intervals, dance-offs and catwalks down tables. It's essentially bingo played over pitchers of cocktails and beer, with frantic dancing to 90s pop music and celebrity entertainment.
Of course, I'd never heard of it!
I created a card with some cocktail glasses, music notes and bingo balls on it. The eagle-eyed among you might notice that all the balls mark Emily's age!


Monday, 30 March 2020


My family and I belong to a wonderful synagogue called Achva. Achva is a Hebrew word which means friendship, brotherhood and unity. Back in 2014 I made a papercut based on the verse "אהבה ואחווה ושלום ורעות", "Love and brotherhood and peace and companionship". The blessing is from the Sheva Brachot, "the Seven Blessings" that are recited for a bride and groom under the chuppah, the canopy beneath which Jewish marriage ceremonies are performed. The papercut was given as a thank you gift to the then retiring chairperson of our synagogue.
A few years on and it was time for her replacement to end her time as chairperson too. The members of the synagogue once again wanted to present her with a special gift as a way of thanking her for all her hard work over the years. They also wanted a second piece to thank another hard working member of the community. I was asked to come up with something suitable.
I created this circular design with the word "Achva", the name of our synagogue, appearing in both Hebrew and English. My design is embellished with a dove of peace and flowers, and measures 16.5x16.5cm. It fits perfectly into an IKEA RIBBA frame.

Should you be interested in purchasing a similar hand cut papercut, framed or unframed, just pop me a message or look for the listing in my Etsy shop.

* This post has been shared on Inspire Me Monday, The Good. The Random. The Fun., Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)Make It Pretty Monday, Wonderful Wednesday and {wow me} wednesday.