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Update on Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, & Maria

A new Garden to Garden Disaster Response Center  is now open and will allow for posts that Offer a Resource or to Submit a Need. Gardens with available resources such as expertise, supplies, equipment, technology, or labor will be able to share this with gardens in need. 

 

We will continue to provide updates regularly on our member gardens that have been impacted.  See below for a list of our member gardens that have reported back to us on the damage they've incurred.

 

Images (top row, left to right): Montgomery Botanical Center, Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Peach County, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Images (bottom row, left to right): Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Bok Tower Gardens

 

Arboretum Parque Dona Ines/Fundacion Luis Munoz Marin (San Juan, Puerto Rico):

According to Director Christian Torres, the island has no electricity with conditions worsening now due to Hurricane Maria. About 60+ trees were broken or uprooted in their arboretum, including many endangered, endemic, and rare species. Christian fears that they have lost all 2,000+ specimens in their arboretum collections and some infrastructure.

Bok Tower Gardens (Lake Wales, FL):

Bok Tower Gardens was closed for 13 days and was without power for 11 days. Damage sustained from Hurricane Irma resulted in the loss of several large trees (including a large oak tree near the tower) and a broken window on the bottom floor of the Singing Tower. Professional tree crews and staff have removed a mountain of plant debris and clean-up will continue throughout the Gardens.

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens (Jacksonville, FL):

The lower tier of all three formal garden spaces remained submerged for more than 24 hours, resulting in the uprooting of plants, detached railing along the river, broken lighting, pervasive salinization of the soil, large amounts of debris, and significant impact to much of the physical infrastructure, including drainage, electric, fencing, and the well that services the landscape. 

Harry P. Leu Gardens (Orlando, FL):

Sustained significant damage to the fifty acre garden. A thorough assessment was made in anticipation of FEMA declaring it a “Special Project,” and the report identifies 175 trees were destroyed (uprooted or broken and in need of removal) and 10-12” of debris across all roads and sidewalks. The Leu House Museum a National Register property, received damage to the roof from a 2.5 ton limb crashing through the upstairs bedroom. Significant water intrusion has occurred and they are working with the Orlando Regional History Center to help with conserving floors, furniture and other artifacts. All activities in the Gardens scheduled through the end of October (65-70 events) have been moved indoors to the Welcome Center. 

Heathcote Botanical Gardens (Fort Pierce, FL):

HBG suffered severe wind damage that resulted in the loss of several large native trees including:

·         Clusia major or Autograph Tree - which must be taken down and took another tree down with it.

·         Bulnesia arborea or Verawood – which was uprighted by professional volunteer arborists.  

·         Olea europaea  in the Herb Garden - common olive tree grown in the Mediterranean - split at the base that resulted in the loss of the tree.

·         Dioon spinulosum - Lemon Eucalyptus in the Herb Garden: tree is damaged too badly to upright or save.

·         Tabeluia impetiginosa - Pink Tabebuia; tree is now uprighted in the hopes of saving it.

·         Bursera simaruba or gumbo limbo tree; damaged beyond repair.

·         Punica granatum or Pomegranate tree in the Herb Garden was destroyed and will need to be stump ground and cleared for replanting of a replacement tree.

·         Several palms including two (2) Syagrus schizophylia to be up righted

·         Bonsia trees (3) three fell off wooden stanchions in the Japanese Garden need to be replaced, along with broken stanchions and bonsai pots.

This is the second hurricane within a year for which the Gardens experienced major damage, with Hurricane Mathew in October 2016 and now Hurricane Irma.  Plants beds are in process of being cleaned in preparation for annual plantings.  The large debris pile keeps growing, in large measure due to the dedicated volunteers who have worked so tirelessly to bring the Gardens back in shape!

Key West Botanical Garden Society (Key West, FL): 

The garden sustained major wind damage throughout the 15 acres. The majority of the 81 year old tropical forest canopy is damaged. The loss of specimen, champion, legacy, tribute trees/plants is extensive with an assessment ongoing. Wind damage to entry gates and fencing are the only structural issues reported at this time. All large trees were either blown down or experienced extensive damage. Only about 2 acres of the grounds have limited access due to fallen limb/tree damage with the remainder areas listed dangerous and impassible. Fortunately, the Garden's Native Plant Nursery of 2000 native, threatened & endangered plants sustained little damage. Initial reports indicate the KWBGS will be closed for 6 months or more. Donations are being accepted to assist in the recovery efforts through the website at www.keywest.garden.  

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Sarasota, FL):

Initial reports indicate minimal damage with lots of debris and treefall to cleanup.  

Montgomery Botanical Center (Coral Gables, FL):

Substantial damage and loss to the plant collection, garden staff are working diligently to inventory the collection and see how much was lost.

Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County (West Palm Beach, FL):           

Reports indicate that 3-5% of their tree cover has been destroyed and 25% has been damaged. The MBG nursery also suffered damage to the roofs of their Mist House and their greenhouse suffered damage to the siding. It's estimated that they have have lost around 300 plants from that area, which is approximately ¼ of their inventory.

Naples Botanical Garden (Naples, FL):

The three phone pole-girth trees that welcome visitors to Kapnick Hall are all down. One of the largest trees in the cultivated area, a red kapok tree, is also down. In addition, a queensland bottle tree that weighs nearly 10,000-pounds was uprooted. Gary Bolvin, Director of Operations, says the main damage is to the legacy trees but that the garden had only suffered minimal damage to their boardwalks and buildings. In that regard, volunteers or staff largely will face the task of reinserting end plugs for its synthetic lumber boardwalks. The email server is currently down, volunteers are needed and should contact volunteers@naplesgarden.org or inquire via their temporary email for more information at NBGemployees@gmail.com

Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens:

Naples Zoo has significant damage throughout the entire property. The Zoo will remain closed until further notice. There is extensive exhibit damage throughout the zoo and many animals are unable to go back on exhibit without significant repairs. The botanical gardens throughout the property have also suffered significant damage with the loss of many historical trees (some were nearly 100 years old) and plants. The entire property is covered in debris from trees and plants. The Zoo is still without power at this time. 

National Tropical Botanical Garden, The Kampong Garden (Coconut Grove, FL):

Tragically, the garden and its beloved living collection suffered significant damage. Many of the iconic trees were lost, and the garden staff is working to assess what can be done to save many of the palms, mangoes, and tropical plants. Cleanup and recovery will take months and will require a team of arborists, botanists and horticulturists.

Nehrling Gardens (Gotha, FL):

Many of Nehrling Gardens historic trees and plants in the 1880's National Register historic site and Florida Heritage site were damaged.  The Garden Team is meeting to carry out emergency safety and priority work plans. The garden is closed at the moment as they work to restore their nature trails. President Angela Withers says they lost 3 very large oak trees, one of Nehrling's original magnolias, and that there are dangerous "widow makers" high up in many of the remaining trees. Huge branches fell all over the grounds, crushing new plants that were recently added to the gardens. 

Peckerwood Garden (Hempstead, TX):

Initial reports from Peckerwood Garden are that the garden’s creek overflowed and flooded a quarter of the woodland but that flooding has now receded at the garden. 

Pinecrest Gardens (Pinecrest, FL):

The Gardens sustained considerable damage. The historic banyan tree in the center of the Gardens had several trunks lifted and blown over. Several large trees fell and one has damaged a building and covered a walkway. Several mature Ficus in the parking lot were also lifted and toppled. In their natural areas, one of the largest Figs, one of the original garden “inhabitants,” fell and flattened a historic stone rain shelter. They also lost a large Bald Cypress in their Slough area. The Slough area also had about 2 feet of floodwaters, resulting in stranded mature koi and the loss of numerous fish. 

Numerous tropical flowering trees either were destroyed or profoundly damaged. Large Cereus cacti in the xeric Lake Garden were toppled. Unfortunately, much of the battered tree canopy exposes many smaller plants to the sunlight. 

Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens (St. Lucie, FL):

Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens weathered the storm remarkably well with minimal damage. There are a few downed trees (pines) and a number of ornamental trees that were partially uprooted by wind, which have now been straightened and secured. 

Mercer Botanic Gardens (Humble, TX):

Mercer Botanic Garden is recovering from eight feet of rushing, debris-laden, flood water that inundated most of the facility over a four day period. The visitor center took on five feet of water and architectural plans are in process of being finalized in order to get the building back in shape as soon as possible. The utility yard and buildings also took on five feet of water; equipment losses were substantial, but fortunately there was only minor structural damage to the facility. The greenhouse and nursery areas were devastated by over eight feet of water, with sections of fence, heavy benches, equipment and plants tossed around like confetti and scattered for hundreds of yards throughout the surrounding woods. As with the utility yard, there was no major structural damage to buildings but irrigation and climate control systems are undergoing substantial repair and replacement. The Mercer Society Gift Shoppe, a wooden structure, was greatly compromised with considerable loss of contents and merchandise. It will have to be demolished.

As may be expected, the gardens themselves took a huge hit, with major erosion that will take months to repair and extremely painful losses of living collections that will be hard to replace. Even large specimen trees are starting to defoliate and only time will tell if they will recover. Staff are in triage mode to offset damage to the survivors. 

Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens (Miami, FL):

Miami-Dade lost many large trees that have been there for over 35 years. Initial reports indicate it could be over 500 trees lost. The cleanup effort may take over two months. 

Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center (Orange, TX):

Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center was heavily impacted by Harvey with between 43” and 52” of rainfall in less than 48 hours. While wind was a factor, flooding was the catastrophic impact Shangri La experienced. The Platinum LEED certified facilities were heavily damaged by significant flooding that ranged from 20” deep in their Administrative and publicly accessible facilities to nearly 36” deep in their Nature Center facilities. Docks and support infrastructure along Adams Bayou that provide access for their Outpost Tour program were also severely damaged and the repair/replacement is still under assessment. Thanks to the efforts of their amazing facilities staff and senior management, remediation teams were mobilized and on stand-by to address flood damage as soon as the water receded. Since the end of August these teams have made excellent progress in remediation and staff members are confident that their facilities will be fully restored, even though it will be many months before the work is complete. 

Sholom Park (Ocala, FL):

The park has no electricity to keep the well and septic system running, 20-25 trees were uprooted or nearly down, the formal garden fencing has damage, hanging limbs are numerous, debris from limbs and plant matter is strewn across the 44 acres. Plant beds were crushed by downed trees and/or limbs and will require replacement. 

St. George Village Botanical Garden (St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands):

The garden's buildings sustained mimimal damage from both Irma and Maria. Unfortunately, Maria caused significant damage to the botanical garden. 

Unbelievable Acres Botanical Gardens (West Palm Beach, FL):

The Garden experienced extensive damage from Hurricane Irma. Many fallen trees and debris need to be cleared. 

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (Miami, FL):

Power has only been partially restored, and connectivity is still out. Vizcaya suffered extensive damage.The tropical hammock forests surrounding the estate were severely affected with 30% canopy loss and in some locations being almost completely destroyed. 6 feet of seawater flooded the eastern portions of the gardens, Orchidarium, pool, and cafe and shop. The main gardens were flooded with saltwater that covered plants and deposited trash, seaweed, and fish. The recently opened Marine Garden has been partially destroyed along with the yacht landing and teahouse. 

 

The following gardens have checked in with the Association and were unharmed:

Gardens of the Big Bend at University of Florida (Quincy, FL)

Berne Davis Botanical Gardens (Fort Myers, FL)

 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Irma, and Maria we are closely monitoring our member gardens in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and North and South Carolina who have recently been impacted by nature's destructive forces. These hurricanes have dealt devastating blows to unique and historic plant collections that are invaluable to the mission of conserving and inspiring the protection of plant biodiversity for future generations. As more damage and assessment reports come in, we continue to wish for the safety and security of all our member gardens inflicted and to aid them in their efforts to rebuild and reopen over the coming weeks.

 

Please direct any questions or inquiries to info@publicgardens.org.