Thursday, 12 December 2019

Istanbul Botanic Garden - Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanik Bahçesi - Winter in Turkey

I'm back in Turkey for the winter to work on a consultancy and design project in Ordu, then to Istanbul to finish a design for Svetlin from Orehite Ranch - Veslec and to continue work on a Polyculture book. I've got a few days in Istanbul before I head off to Ordu so obviously I'm going to visit the Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanik Bahçesi (NGBB).

The last time I visited the garden it was pouring with rain, I was with my son Archie and the Ataşehir Entrance was closed due to construction work on a road (still is btw) Arch, who was not entirely sold on visiting the garden in the first place, was not impressed with my suggestion to walk 4 km in the rain to the Ümraniye Entrance so we headed up to the nearby Mimar Sinan Mosque (which is pretty impressive in it's own right and has a lovely little garden) and got some kebabs and baklava instead.

This time around I came better prepared having booked an Airbnb in one of the towers that overlooks the garden. I'm going to be in Istanbul for awhile so I figure I will make a thorough study of the garden over multiple trips for inspiration and to get the creative juices flowing for the polyculture book :)  It's a big garden with eight islands to explore and is wonderfully designed into a Four-way highway interchange, providing a great example of integrating plant habitat into the city.  I started with the Anatolia Island photographed below.

Photo by NGBB

There are plenty of plants to nibble on in this garden including this fine Celtis australis - European Hackberry. The fruits have a thin layer of sweet flesh covering a pea sized seed and are ripe this time of year. We have a few of these trees growing back home in the forest garden although no fruits yet.

Elaeagnus x ebbingei - Ebbinge's silverberry ripening. These are ripe in our gardens in April. Interestingly there were 2 or 3 ripe berries on this hedge. Ripe fruit is orange/red colour and about twice the size of these maturing fruits

The Elaeagnus x ebbingei - Ebbinge's silverberry berries photographed above are from this hedge. Elaeagnus x ebbingei - Ebbinge's silverberry is an excellent choice for hedging, being evergreen nitrogen fixing and providing very edible fruits when there is very little else in the edible garden. Also wind and drought resistant and provides late nectar/pollen to pollinators, an all round super plant.

First time I've seen a Pistachio tree - not the tree that produces the Pistachio nuts that we all know and love, but a relative Pistacia atlanticawith smaller nuts that are also edible -  albeit small and bit fiddly I would imagine. It's USDA Hardiness 6-9 so certainly worth a try in our gardens. The species is dioecious so you need to grow male and female plants for fruits. 

Another plant used often as hedging in this garden is Laurus nobilis - Bay Tree This time of year the plant is fruiting as you can just about make out the black shiny fruits in the photo below. Laurus nobilis - Bay Tree  is another dioecious species with  male and female plants needed for fruit production  

Plenty of tightly trimmed Rosmarinus officinalis - Rosemary around the garden used for low hedging and path borders. Rosmarinus officinalis - Rosemary is used often in landscape designs around the city.

Another type of Rosemary planted generously around the gardens is a prostrate cultivar that is used for ground cover on the south facing part of the garden. It forms a great cover as seen the photo below.

Myrtus communis - Foxtail Myrtle full of edible fruits. 

Another delicious fruiting plant Physalis ixocarpa -Tomatillo looking stunning. An annual, would you believe, putting out an incredible amount of plant in a growing season. This specimen was around 1m tall and same width.

Some beautiful non edibles - Euphorbia rigida

Bark of Cypressus arizonica

Not sure what this is but another beauty with delicate pink flowers held high on wispy, convoluted stems.

The stone walls that border the wide access ways in the garden are planted up with various plants. This herb caught my eye nestled in the cracks of the dry stone walls. I'm not sure what it is but will find out on my next visit to the garden.

Cercis siliquostrum - Judas Tree packed full of dried seed pods. An area upwind from the plant, under some pines was teaming with self seeded Cercis siliquostrum - Judas Tree saplings.

Family Photo -  Cupressus sp.

So much juxtaposition in this garden. 

That's all for now, looking forward to next visit 

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  1. The herb in the wall that you couldn't id is ivy leaved cyclamen.

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