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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gan Havradim — The Rose Garden©


A ten-minute walk from the hustle and bustle of the Jerusalem central bus station is the beautiful, fragrant, Gan
Havradim. Covering an area of some 20 acres (some 80 dunams), the garden contains over four hundred varieties of roses.

Signs next to each drift of roses detail the rose’s name. Thus, if one sees a rose bush on which grows a completely red rose and right next to it on the same branch a totally yellow rose, one will know he is viewing “Rose Baby Masquerade.” On the other hand, if shocking-pink rose bushes are seen, one will know he is looking at “Bella Rose.” White pergolas surrounded by white rose bushes provide a wonderful scented,
shady place to sit in both summer and winter.

Many of the roses are gifts from different countries around the globe and are planted in the area of the park called the Garden of Nations. Represented here are many rose varieties that are grown in different lands. Each section of this part of the garden displays a large sign telling of the origin of its roses. In addition, gifts of art sculptures from various nations are found here. Near the Argentina section are tables, shaded by large umbrellas, in which are inlaid chess boards. One can bring draft or chess pieces and play a good game.

There is also an experimental section in the park. Here, new varieties of roses are tested to see if they are suitable for private and public gardens in Israel.

A split-level ornamental pond is found in an area that was used as a quarry until 1948. On the eastern side of the quarry is a Japanese garden that can be viewed from a wooden observation bridge.

History of Gan Havradim

During the British Mandate period, Sheikh Bader was an Arab village on a hilltop in western Jerusalem and was part of the Jerusalem Municipality. The village was deserted by its inhabitants during the 1948 War of Independence.

During the first years of the state, the garden was called President’s Park. From 1949 till the late 1950s it was used only for official government ceremonies. At a certain point in the 1960s (it is not clear exactly when), the park was opened to the general public, and benches and trash cans were added. Many Jerusalemites remember that in the 1970s, the park was somewhat neglected. Schools would visit for their annual tiyul, and scout- and summer camps were held here.

In October 1981, an International Rose Congress was to convene in Israel. David Gilad of the Israel Flower Board was responsible for finding a location for this event, and the most appropriate site found was President’s Park — due to its unique location and panoramic views.

The entire area was re-landscaped by architect Joseph Segal, and Gan Havradim came into being. The Wohl
Rose Park of Jerusalem was a gift from Vivienne and Maurice Wohl and was built as a joint project by the Jerusalem Foundation and the Jerusalem Municipality.

The Supreme Court was built nearby in the early 1990s, and today it flanks Gan Havradim.

The garden was chosen as one of the 11 most beautiful rose gardens in the world, and won an award for excellence in an international competition for rose gardens in 2003. Today, tens of thousands of visitors, including a large number of tourists, visit the garden each year to enjoy the park’s uniqueness and beauty.
The public appreciates the high level of care and maintenance of the park and treat it with great respect.

The main entrance to Gan Havradim is opposite the Knesset and close to the Menorah Plaza, where the bronze four-and-a-half-meter Menorat haKnesset is found. A British Jewish sculptor, Benno Elkan, took six years to build this visual “textbook.” It is built in the shape of the Menorah that appears in Arch of Titus,
and has engravings of some 30 important events, idioms, characters and terms from Jewish history. In 1956 the English Parliament presented it as a gift to the State of Israel.

published in "Hamodia" 14 July 2011.

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