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NATURE NOTES

The Flowers of Winter 2005-2006

Where to go, What to see, When
 

Almond Trees are Blooming Already

The hot spell in the middle of winter tricked the almonds, among others, into starting to flower. The white blooms of the almond are the symbol of the Tu Bishvat holiday, which falls on February 13 this year, since they usually flower around that date. But the trees are already in bloom, more than three weeks early. They can be viewed in the Judean hills - at Tel Tzuva, next to Kibbutz Tzova, in Motza - right from the road to Jerusalem. In the north, try Keren Naftali on the Naftali Range (near Moshav Ramot Naftali), the Jezreel Valley, or the Western Galilee. 

Almonds in the Desert

The beginning of February is the time to visit the blossoming almond trees in the Negev Highlands. Borot Lotz and Nahal Eilot are the best place to not only see the almonds, but also get a glimpse of the Negev in bloom with tulips, anemones, cyclamens and many other flowers. To get to Borot Lotz, take Route 171 (it starts a little north of Mitzpe Ramon) and drive west for 30 km. (an adventure in itself). Stop off at Bor Hamat to see if it is full of water. Turn right to Borot Lotz (signposted). Borot Lotz are a group of Israelite period wells with remains of settlements around them.  Grand old (hundreds of years old) Atlantic pistachios grow between the wells.
To see almonds in full bloom, go to Nahal Eilot. Drive back a little from the Borot Lotz parking lot in the direction of the road. Just before you get to the road, a black-marked unpaved road leads off to the right (west). Drive along the unpaved road until it ends. Lock the car (the Bedouins of the Negev seem to make a living from breaking into cars!) and walk down the black-marked trail into Nahal Eilot. The Atlantic pistachios are marvelous and the almonds in between are a sight to be photographed.

Almonds and Mushrooms - Baram Forest

Start at Hiram Junction on the North Road near Kibbutz Sasa and take Route 899 northward, following signs to "Mordechai and Ester's Graves" (yes, from the Purim story). Leave your car in the parking lot and follow the path leading eastward into the forest. In the winter, the forest is full of mushrooms, moss, and almonds in full bloom. The path marked in red will take you back to the parking lot.

Anemones in all Colors - Shefaram Hills

Wonderful carpets of anemone and poppy are just beginning to cover fields all around the country. Once the rain stops, head for the Shefaram-Alonim hills to see an example. The most popular path leads off from the approach road to Kibbutz Alonim.

Anemones in the Negev

The famous anemone hills on the road to Beersheva in Nahal Habesor should not be missed. This year, the hill will have an extra powerful glow due to the rains and the cold weather.

Lupin Land

The lupins have begun to bloom by the thousands around Mount Tabor. For some "blue" photo ops, stop on the main road from Afula to Kfar Tavor, just before the turn off to the Tavor. There are lupins galore on the right side of the road. For a better view, drive to Kfar Kish and hike down to the basalt canyon of Nahal Tavor. The hills are carpeted with this beautiful flower.

Cyclamen Hill - Giva'at HaRakafot

If you have never seen it, do it this year - visit Cyclamen Hill near Kibbutz Galed. From Eliakim Junction on the Fureidis-Yokneam road (near Yokneam), take Route 672 southward to Kibbutz Galed. There are flowers galore; Rakafot Hill cannot be missed. Stay away on weekends though - the place is packed.

Old Gvaram - Cyclamen and Irises

Seven kilometers south of Ashkelon on the coastal highway, turn left to Kibbutz Gvaram. Drive to the top of the hill and follow the sign to "Old Gvaram" (Gvaram Hayeshana). Park on the approach road and walk through the cattle gate to see the hills carpeted with cyclamens and irises. Take the path to the top of hill for a view of the southern coastal plain - towards Gaza.
 


 


Almonds in bloom


Anemone


Cyclamen


Lupin

 


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