We've received lots of inquiries via phone, email, and Facebook asking whether the Gardens suffered any damage due to Hurricane Irene. According to our Director of Horticulture, Maura McGoldrick-Brush, who surveyed the property during the storm, the Gardens did suffer quite a bit of damage due to downed limbs and trees, but no significant damage to structures (except for the arbor along the Primrose Path, left). Extensive damage to the property was significantly reduced as a result of a tree maintenance program conducted in collaboration with Bartlett Tree Experts http://www.bartlett.com/index.cfm .
White Pines and Silver Maples were the trees most affected by the hurricane. Both types grow fast (that is why they are so popular), however, this trait results in weak limbs susceptible to heavy winds. In recent years the Gardens has been systematically trimming or cabling these species as well as other trees whose falling limbs are likely to damage nearby structures. As these trees are removed due to disease or other issues, their replacements are of sturdier types, for example the new sugar maples planted on the North Lawn.
As noted above the most serious damage to a structure was due to a large limb of the silver maple by the Thatched Cottage. This limb cracked and crush approximately 20' of the arbor along the Primrose Path. Fortunately proper cabling prevented any damage to the Cottage.
Saturated ground contributed to a linden along the eastern side of the South Allee being uprooted by the heavy winds. Unfortunately the tree fell towards the west and damage the Canadian hemlock along side it.
Clean-up of the debris is still underway and will probably continue through October, especially in the woodland areas along the edges of the property (the tree to the left is by the service entrance). The horticulture and operations staff put in long hours in the early part of the week readying the Gardens for visitors when it reopened on Wednesday. This will be a busy fall as the storm clean-up will go right into leaf clean-up and bulb planting. All photos by OWG Staff Member Vince Kish.