Sunday, 28 February 2016

Cyclamen Hill

Generally speaking there are two seasons in Israel - the Winter and the Summer. The winter is cool to cold with a few showers, and the summer is hot and rain-free. Winter in Israel starts in October-November and ends in March. It is is the most green and lush time of year. The rains of December, January and February bring out a fabulous display of wildflowers and the entire country turns green.
Cyclamen, rakefet in Hebrew (Latin name: Cyclamen persicum, the Persian cyclamen), are one of the popular winter flowers in Israel. It is a delicate flower, but it can grow almost anywhere, even in rocks and shady forest groves. Rakefot bloom throughout late winter and into spring, adding a touch of beauty to cool-weather hikes. They range in colour from pale pink to deep purple. Its petals grow upward instead of outward, so the flowers look like they're stretching up to the sky. It is said that King Solomon saw the rakefet as the model for his crown, and one of the Hebrew nicknames that has stuck to it is "Nezer Shlomo," King Solomon’s crown. The tubers at the root of these cyclamen plants have historically been used to make soap.
While the flower is a protected species in Israel, it is by no means rare and there are several places in the country where huge carpets of pink cyclamen can currently be seen covering the ground. Mister Handmade in Israel and I headed off to "Cyclamen Hill", south of Moshav Tal Shahar, where the hill is covered with cypress trees and, right now, a huge carpet of pink, white and purple cyclamen blossoms, along with the occasional calanit and the light-purple iris called Tsaharon (Barbary Nut). The latter means in Hebrew "noon-time", since it opens its flowers in the noon time.
We drove down a dirt road into a wooded area, with cars parked in every imaginable spot, as is usual in Israel. A hand-painted sign pointed us in the direction of the hill. We quickly spotted our first rakefet, then more and more. Unmarked paths crisscrossed the grove in all directions, and we were able to walk around and enjoy the sight of the cyclamen without stepping on any.
We wandered away from the crowds (Israelis really love their wild flowers!) and found somewhere to put down our blanket. Armed with snacks and the weekend's newspaper, Mister Handmade in Israel enjoyed the peace and quiet (apparently when you have seen one cyclamen, you've seen them all!), whilst I took yet more photos and enjoyed moving from one cluster of rakefot to another. The sun's rays danced through the branches of the trees as I took my pictures. It was a magical sight.
Afterwards we made a return visit to our favourite goat farm at Tal Shahar, recently renamed the Iza Pziza Dairy. The name might have changed, but the fresh, organic goat cheese and yoghurt I purchased was delicious, and the goats were just as cute as ever!


Richard said...

never knew about the King Solomon connection to cyclamens.

Quinn said...

I learned something new here today :)
It's always so interesting to see a plant in it's own habitat, when previously I have seen it only in a pot. Cyclamen are marvelous - I've never actually had one, but I admire them at the florist's shop whenever I visit.
And the poppies and iris must make a dramatic visual counterpoint in your landscape also.
The goats are, of course, a bonus ;)

Miss Val's Creations said...

So beautiful! I love seeing the cyclamen in other colors. I had no idea they can be pink or purple. The blooms are so pretty with the contrasting color at the stem. The leaf markings on the purple ones are really cool! The goat lying down has great markings too!

The House with the Blue Door said...

Wow, those carpets of cyclamen are stunning! We have them as houseplants here, and small ones which bloom outside in the colder weather. To see them in their natural habitat is fascinating - thank you for sharing.
Cathy x

Coastal Ripples said...

What a wonderful sight to see so many together. I often put small pots of them at the bottom of my garden but they never spread that extent. B x

Anonymous said...

I have never seen cyclamen in the "wild" (meaning not in a flower pot!) - beautiful! The red poppy is the state flower of California where I live. This is a beautiful post, and the things you post are so interesting - glad to have "met" you this way:)

Ida said...

How wonderful that these grow wild there. They are so pretty and delicate looking. - Also the goats were cute to see as well.

Ela said...

I love these beautiful flowers !! Great to see that these cyclamen grow there on the hill !!