The kiss of the sun for pardon;
The song of the birds for mirth;
One is nearer to God’s heart in the garden;
Than anywhere else on earth.
Dorothy Gurney 1858 – 1932
My grandfather taught me this poem when I was just a little girl and I have forever remembered it. Together with my Grandma they had a magnificent garden just up the road from where I grew up.
My garden here in Petra is yet to be established so I love being able to take advantage of springtime in Jordan when the wildflowers are coming out in bloom adding colour and life to the desert. Everywhere I look I can find a “garden”.
The other day we drove out to Beida to enjoy the late afternoon sun and a cup of Bedouin tea. While Atef prepared the fire and made the tea I explored the Wadi (valley) where we had chosen to stop. Alia happily played with the sand and rocks.
Looking East in the Wadi
And looking West in the Wadi. Photo is not so great as it was looking directly into the sun.
It was a treasure trove of wildflowers just starting to make their presence known with a splash of colour here and there, as the stems of the first of the bulbs and other flowers were emerging from the sandy soil and their delicate petals were unfolding revealing a kalidescope of colour.
At bit of a scramble up the rocks and into this protected corner I found these flowers in full bloom.
Here are some close ups. The variations in the colours were amazing from deep purples to the pistachio greens to a soft lemon yellow. I don’t know what these flowers are called. Can anyone help me out?
I also spotted a lone hyacinth with it’s deep purpley blue flowers.
There was one tiny little delicate yellow flower open to capture the full sun.
Peaking out the crevices of the rocks was this vibrant green leaf plant with white and yellow bell flowers.
And this succulent type plant that was also flourishing through a crack in the rocks
This flower was poking it’s head through the sand to reveal it’s purple petals with spotted centres.
If anyone can help identify the flowers/plants I would very much appreciate the input.
The valley also was home to numerous birds who were singing merrily as they flitted from the rocks. I recognised the Sinai Rosefinch, the Mourning Wheatear, a Black Redstart and Eurasian Crag Martins, but there were also other finches and birds that I wasn’t able to identify. For the want of a zoom lens and more than 20 mins of exploring I would love to be able to capture more of the birds in photos and learn more about what I’m seeing.
The Sinai Rosefinsh. The beautiful colours of the male make it easy to spot, whereas the muted tones of the female (centre right of the photo) means that it blends in with the background of the rocks.
There was also one magnificent old tree which is growing out of the side of the rock.
It seems that everywhere you look there is evidence of the Nabatean civilization. This stairway seemly goes nowhere, but would have had its purpose to the Nabateans.
Atef making a pot of tea for us whilst Alia and I played in the sun.
So much beauty that you are enjoying in Petra this spring! When I saw the first flower picture you posted I said, “I’m jealous!” (my daughter was in the room.) That is the Fritillary (Fritillary libanotica), from the Lily family. I’ve seen it only once in the north of Jordan many years ago and I think the flowers are so beautiful. One of my favorites.
Yes, the purple is a type of hyacinth, probably a Tassel Hyacinth (common name) in the genus Leopoldia.
The small yellow flower is a Gagea. All these flowers are in the Lily family.
The purple (with spots on the center of the flower) is an iris, though I don’t know the exact name. It is in the Iris family,
The other two flowers are in the Borage family. One of the characteristics of this family is its “hispid hairs”, making them appear rather fuzzy. The first one looks like “Golden Drop:, and the second looks like Alkanna.
The desert is in bloom!
I would love to see a Sinai Rosefinch some day. I don’t know a lot about birds but I am trying to learn a little. They’re much harder to study than wildflowers. We’re going to camp in Wadi Dana next week and I hope to do some birdwatching there.
PS Thank you for sharing the poem. I may even commit it to memory.
I thought that poem might find it’s way into your heart. It’s pretty special to me. My grandfather was a great gardener (and an even greater man) and it was from him that I learnt about my love of nature and to be able to see the beauty of God’s creation in all that he has given us. Thanks for the name of the lily – I hadn’t seen them before in the three years that I’ve been living here. I was absolutely amazed at the variety of the colours of the flowers. Thanks for all your help and information – I’m about to spend some time looking up more information on those plants now that you have given me the names. The flora and fauna of Jordan is certainly very different to where I grew up and I’m enjoying being able to learn all about it.
Also if you are coming to Dana might you consider coming to Petra – it’s only another 40 minutes. I would love to met up and we could have a cup of tea or bbq out in Beida and do some more wildflower exploring.
Thank you for the invitation, and I hope we can take you up on it sometime. I doubt it will be this trip south as we are heading up a large camping group and need to arrive early in Dana. On the other end, we need to return directly to Mafraq on Monday morning so that my husband can keep an appointment. It would be lovely to meet you sometime. And if you ever get so far north as Mafraq, ahlan wa sahlan!