Recently, the news from southern Israel has been frightening and sad: Approximately one million Israelis, including people in the major cities of Beer Sheva and Ashdod, have been living under the threat of missiles fired from Gaza. Regular patterns of school, work and home life have been disrupted as residents are urged to stay within 15 seconds of bomb shelters or safe rooms.
Politics and security aside, we want to show you the beautiful side of this corner of the northern Negev desert. In full bloom after God’s gift of plentiful rains this past winter, farmers and day-trippers alike can revel in the wide swaths of green and gorgeous flowers.
A visit to the Bitronot Be’eri Reserve left no doubt in our minds that spring is here! The Turban Buttercup flower (known in Hebrew as a nurit) peaks in March and April. The charming red flower takes over for the ubiquitous red winter bloom, the anemone (kalanit).
With a purple bloom and striking height, the milk thistle has long been valued as both a food source—it’s in the artichoke family—and for home remedies for liver and digestive problems.
Not just for backyard gardens or European riverbanks, the Negev desert also hosts its own special member of the tulip family. Red, with slightly rippled leaves, the desert tulip is native to the Negev and thrives in sandy soil.
Looking too delicate for the rough-and-tumble of the desert, nevertheless this flower has staked its claim on a hillside. Known as bindweed or morning glory, these white-purple blooms grow singly and announce the spring to all comers.
Not just pretty to look at, some of the blooms indicate that something delicious is growing. The a’kub plant (also known as tumble thistle) has spiky leaves and a spherical middle that contains several small yellow flowers. This wild-growing shrub is used by many local cultures, including Sephardi Jews, Druze, and Arab, as a vegetable similar to artichokes. Some have suggested that the leaves were used as Jesus’s crown of thorns.
We hope that in the coming days that quiet and calm will return to the Negev region, and that both residents and tourists from near and far will be able to enjoy beautiful weather and God’s glorious spring visitors.
Credit to Kate Stern for the beautiful photos.