Cummer gardens soil recovers, plants take harder hit

Cummer gardens soil recovers, plants take harder hit
The aftermath of Hurricane Irma on the Cummer Gardens in Sept. 2017

The lower level of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens’ historic gardens remain closed to the public five months after Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc Sept. 11, 2017, on yards, homes and business on the riverfront.

“But, thanks to an aggressive watering program and some help from Mother Nature in providing a wet winter, I am pleased to announce that our bi-weekly soil tests finally show plantable conditions,” said Holly Keris, chief operating office and chief curator, in a message to patrons. “We will still need to adjust the pH levels once we begin planting, but this is a major step forward in our recovery.”

Despite good news about the soil, Keris reported the news regarding plant health is less positive. Following a recent visit, reconstruction consultants WLA Studio from Athens, Georgia, concluded the plant survival rate is much lower than anticipated and are recommending a full replant of the lower tier. Any surviving material will be relocated to another area of the campus, where it can be monitored and cared for separately, Keris said.

WLA Studio’s next steps providing the museum with a full plan, budget, and timeline to get the garden spaces open for public enjoyment.

The Cummer will hold its annual Spring Celebration and Plant Sale Saturday, March 3, on Weaver First Saturday Free For All, where activities will include plant vendors, educational activities, interactive art projects, and live music.

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