This year (2017) the Friends are sponsoring three scholars and this is blog is by a recent arrival, Abby who comes from Maryland, USA. This is what she has been doing this week.
I was put in charge of a new beautification project in the gardens. Ori (the Scientific Director) was given a large donation of Cyclamen persicum tubers, 800 to be precise. He wanted them to be planted in a wall in the main garden and I decided on the upper path, just below the library, where the cedar trees form an archway over the path. I was then contacted by Alan, a volunteer coordinator. He had 3 students who needed a project for the next day.
In preparation, I gathered a lot of soil as a type of mortar which was moistened until it was a sticky thick consistency. I also had hand trowels, to spread the “glue”. When the students arrived all was ready. We walked down to the path and I gave them a brief lesson on Cyclamen; like where the roots came out and where the leaves would emerge.
After that, the girls shunned the latex gloves as well as the hand trowels; instead they used their bare hands to scoop out the glue like mud and stuff it into the rock wall.
I showed them how I wanted it done. They were to grab a handful of mud and find a crack in the stone. Then they were to carefully insert the Cyclamen into the crack and cover with more mud. The girls didn’t mind the messy job at all and were soon laughing and talking as if they did this sort of work every day!
They worked for an hour and a half and during that time they got exactly half of the Cyclamen planted! Very exciting! The next day, I had another volunteer and we finished up the final 400 tubers.
I had fun teaching the students about Cyclamen persicum. When these delightful plants begin to flower (hopefully next year) this walkway will be stunning. It will be a solid mass of delicate pink and white. If you’re able, come to the Gardens and check them out!
Shalom from the JBG!