When a weather-related story about Jerusalem is topping the media headlines and it is front page on the Columbus Dispatch - the daily newspaper in my home city of Columbus, Ohio - it must be a rare event. The heavy, wet snow started falling in the early hours of Thursday morning and I woke up to an unusually bright and chilly bedroom. The snow was still steadily falling and beginning to blanket the busy streets during the hectic morning commute. The chaos of traffic was an obvious fate for a city not well adjusted to this end of the weather spectrum. I was not convinced in the days before when rumours and forecasts of snow were buzzing around the country, that even if it did snow it would be ‘real snow’. I was barely convinced the first time I squinted out the window at the thin blanket of snow reflecting the early sun. My initial disbelief was quickly followed by excitement, and finished with a dose of reality - snow is nice when you have central heating and insulation. I slumped back to bed.
Fortunately, I was motivated to unbundling the layers of blankets by the thought of capturing a strange combination of snow blanketing native South African and Australian plants in the Gardens. My first thoughts were of the bright orange and finely textured Banksia ashbyi blooms I had photographed a few days earlier under sunny skies and warm temperatures. I then thought of the other plants - Aloe, Agave, Allium, Crocus, and Cyclamen - in bloom throughout the Gardens. The temptation to capture these brilliantly coloured blooms contrasting with the impeccably white snow was the inspiration I needed to remove myself from my warm and comfortable realm.
The wind and snow picked up as a trekked through the slippery, snow-covered paths of the Gardens, but I was able to capture several flowers hiding under the snow before retreating to the greenhouse to start with ‘real work’ for the day. I spent the remaining part of my morning completing the seed sowing for the autumn propagation requests. It is important to complete pre-treatments and sowing in autumn and winter because many seedlings - particularly ones not native to the region - need to be well-established to handle the sudden heat of the summer months in Jerusalem. I was a bit behind schedule as I had been juggling greenhouse work, managing the geophyte collection, working with volunteers with assisting with the installation of the new Fynbos planting in the South African section. I was content to have a quiet, dark, snow covered greenhouse to myself for the day.
The same motivation that got me out of bed on Thursday inspired me on Friday, but this time it was to capture the Old City carpeted in snow. It would be a unique opportunity in my lifetime. The excitement around the snowfall in Jerusalem made for a wonderful day exploring the Old City sites under these rare wintery conditions.
The Botanical Gardens have been devastated by the heaviest snowfall since 1953. Part of the nursery roof has collapsed as have some of the outdoor classrooms. Tree branches have snapped and there are gaps in the landscape where specimen trees have fallen. The snow has not yet melted and more damage is anticipated to be discovered once it has gone.
Please give whatever you can by clicking on the MyDonate button and making a contribution to the snow repair appeal.