Hurricane News

Below are summary reports we have gathered at the Garden Conservancy. More information on the hurricane impacts on various gardens and a Garden to Garden Disaster Repsonse Center are available on the website of the American Public Gardens Association.

September 18 update on the impact of Hurricane Irma:
The Cummer Museum and Gardens in Jacksonville, FL, with whom our Open Days program has partnered for several years, reports severe damage from Hurricane Irma. Notes on their website say “the historic Cummer Gardens sustained extensive damage. The lower tier of all three formal garden spaces, which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, 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.” Shown below is an image, before and during Irma, of the museum's signature garden feature. A Garden Reconstruction Fund has been established to help fund the repair work.

Before and during Hurricane Irma. Courtesy of the Cummer Museum and Gardens.

The McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach, FL, closed for several days after Hurricane Irma. It is reopening on Tuesday, September 19, even as debris from the hurricane continues to be cleared.

In Gotha, FL, Nehrling Gardens reports that Hurricane Irma devastated many historic trees and plants. Gardeners, volunteers, and arborists are working  to repair the damage as much as possible. The gardens are closed to the public and donations are requested.

Initial report on the impact of Hurricane Harvey, September 8:
Hurricane season opened with a vengeance this year, as all of our members, friends, and public gardens in the Houston area know well. We checked to see how our contacts in the area—both people and gardens—fared in the recent torrential downpours from Hurricane Harvey.

After the rains stopped at Peckerwood Garden, photo by Adam Black, August 27, 2017

Initial reports from Peckerwood Garden, our preservation partner garden in Hempstead, Texas, are that the garden’s creek overflowed and flooded a quarter of the woodland but that flooding has now receded at the garden. They were even able to host a garden tour last Saturday, September 2.  Garden founder John Fairey and his house are fine.

In the heart of Houston, we hear that staff members at Bayou Bend Gardens, a historic garden and collection of American decorative arts, are all fine, but the gardens and the basement of the historic house were flooded and Bayou Bend is temporarily closed. The art collections were not affected. Just north of Houston, Mercer Botanic Gardens reports “overwhelming floods” and is closed indefinitely.

Our Open Days regional representative in Houston, Frank Brown, says he is fine and his garden was not flooded. We do not yet have word about our other local Open Days gardens in Houston.

Further afield in Texas, our upcoming Open Days gardens in Fort Worth and San Antonio were not severely affected and plans for fall Open Days are still moving ahead.

New Orleans also experienced tremendous rainfall and flooding, but fortunately our preservation garden Longue Vue is fine. Amy Graham, Longue Vue’s director of horticulture, reports that they are trying to make a plan to help public gardens in Houston.

We extend our sympathies and best wishes for a speedy recovery to all affected by Hurricane Harvey—and our very best wishes to all in the path of Hurricane Irma and any further storms this fall. We will keep you posted as we learn about further developments, and, as we gather more information, we are investigating how the Garden Conservancy might be able to assist in the recovery.