The botanical gardens on Jerusalem's Mount Scopus will be reopened to the public on Tuesday following a two-year restoration and development project, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced Monday. The garden, which is devoted to indigenous plants of Israel and its environs, is located in the northeastern part of Mount Scopus, overlooking the Judean desert and Jordan, and is home to the greatest number and variety of native Israeli plants in any garden. During the division of Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967, when Mount Scopus became an isolated Israeli enclave surrounded by Jordanian-ruled territory, the garden was abandoned. With the return of the Hebrew University to Mount Scopus following the 1967 Six Day War, most of the garden was found to have survived, but the heavy construction work that took place on the campus following the war caused great damage. In 1988, the garden was restored, although not to its former glory, and reopened to the public. Although the garden is located on the edge of the university campus, most of the faculty and students were unaware of it's existence, the university said in a press release. Over the past two years, a NIS 2.6 million restoration project was undertaken by the university in coordination with the Jewish National Fund, which included widening the garden paths and making them accessible for handicapped visitors. But critics say that the restorations have damaged the natural beauty and scientific value of the site. "The widened pathways and the inundation of cement have taken away many precious plants, exposed roots of trees and removed the original rustic charm of the garden," said a botanical expert who has frequently visited the site, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It is a scientific botanical garden, a precious resource of many rare plants, not a picturesque park. The money should have been spent to reinforce the scientific research and the plants of the garden, not to improve access within it." The garden will be open to the general public from Sunday through Thursday during daylight hours, with Friday and Saturday visits possible with advance notification.

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