Irises are extremely short lived. The stalks are grassy liked reeds and it takes considerable time between the initial shoot through the dirt and the arrival of the first bloom. No less than fourteen species of iris are native to Israel including the spectacular Coastal Iris, the Mt. Gilboa Iris and the Argaman Iris. In late winter and early spring they can be seen in the wild and later in the season in cultivated gardens.
But wait. This is not a picture of an iris. This some sort of gate with grapes and grape leaves.
This is what irises look like and these are some of the rare flowers we found on our trip to Ramat HaNadiv ( רמת הנדיב ) - a spectacular nature park located in the Carmel Mountain Range next to Zichron Ya'akov (זיכרון יעקב).
The irises are cultivated in European (formal) Gardens with many other varieties of local flowers and plants. There are a few exotic species but for the most part the gardens support the natural flora of the region. Surrounding the European Gardens is a huge track of land that has been preserved for the enjoyment of hikers, naturalists and the everpresent weekend Mangalim (מנגלים).
There is of course a strong connection between the gates and the irises. The decorative grapes and grape leaves on the face of the wrought iron are the symbols of grape production and wine making in Israel. These particular symbols are in honor of the Rothschild Family and in particular Baron Edmond de Rothschild who is buried with his wife, in the tomb at the center of the garden.
Edmond de Rothschild purchased the land from the el-Khouri family of Haifa at the turn of the 20th century. He is well known as the primary source of financial support for the development of Jewish towns in and around the Carmel and for introducing European viticulture to the region. In his honor the gardens were dedicated to his memory when they opened in 1954.
Now I can feel the warmth seeping from the readers' hearts. Irises are lovely - and harmless. Nature is good and we all want to support anything green. But Rothschild? Really?
I will only say this: the incredible work being done by my peers in the library world and the academic world and the digital world would not be possible today without non-governmental benefactors. There is not humanities project in the whole of the U.S.A. that does not rely on kindness of charities and foundations founded by industrialists and bankers - not to say the least actual brick and mortar libraries in New York.
It is good enough for me that there are good outcomes albeit there are some we may wish had never happened. I am grateful for those who give something back and I am happy to enjoy the view from atop Ramat HaNadiv looking down on the sea and מעגן מיכאל Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael.