We are making a steady but slow recovery from the October Storm that devastated Reeves-Reed Arboretum.
Each day when I arrive at the Arboretum the steady process of our clean-up efforts is visible. The core area of our historic gardens will be open to the public by our annual Holiday House Tour on December 8.
All of us know the cause of this massive devastation…eight to ten inches of heavy wet snow that fell across the region while our trees were in full leaf. This fall the trees had really pulled out all the stops with a vibrant display of color, so seeing them with trunks split and massive branches hanging has been very difficult. Almost all garden areas have sustained some damage. Hardest hit was the area along the main entrance drive and around the azalea and rose gardens. More than 25 trees have already been removed from the historic core. These include an historic elm which landed on top of the sun porch and a much loved crab apple planted in the 1890s by the Wisner family.
It is estimated that as many as 200 trees are damaged. To save as many trees as possible we are enlisting the best professional expertise. Wherever possible, and where they can work safely, our skilled horticultural staff is managing the clean-up. Most of the branches and tree limbs that littered the entire landscape on October 31 have been cleared from the main garden area; but progress is slow in the woodlands where hanging branches still make the clean up task too hazardous.
Thanks to the amazing dedication of the staff, who has been working tirelessly, we are making progress with this massive clean-up. We are also so very, very grateful to the outpouring of support from the community. Our initial goal of matching the $15,000 challenge established by three of the Arboretums donors has been met. Now that we have had two weeks to fully assess our situation, it is clear that our clean-up costs and repairs to the deer fence will exceed $50,000; and we still need to raise funds to restore the gardens. The challenge is even greater because this latest hit from Mother Nature comes on the heels of Hurricane Irene. We need your help.
We do not expect any support from local or state government. It will need to be gifts from the private sector that help us recover and rebuild this treasure. As each week passes more and more of our grounds will reopen and our programs are resuming. We invite the community (ages 12 and up) to join us on December 10 for a special volunteer clean up day. You can see first-hand your Arboretum. There will be jobs for all.
We are determined to bring our beautiful gardens back, reopen our facilities, and continue the mission of preserving our natural environment and developing the next generation of our planet’s stewards. We need both your financial support and your volunteer time. Please help us with this effort.