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The GCA Announces $50,000 in New Community Restoration Grants in 2018


May 17, 2018

In response to urgent needs caused by catastrophic storms, hurricanes, flooding, fires, and mudslides in the past year, the GCA established a new Restoration Initiative supporting member clubs directly involved in public landscape restoration and conservation projects in communities devastated by natural disaster.  Five clubs each will receive $10,000 grants in 2018, selected by a committee of GCA leaders and announced at the organization’s April 28-29 annual meeting in San Francisco.  

The Garden Club of Houston will renovate boxwood plantings and help ensure restoration of the Mercer Botanic Gardens in metropolitan Houston, 300 acres that showcase the Gulf Coast region’s largest collection of native and cultivated plants.  Flooding from Hurricane Harvey destroyed plant life and devastated buildings there. The club has been involved with the botanic gardens since its inception forty-four years ago and throughout its continued development and expansion, funding projects to enhance botanical value for the benefit of the community and helping to advance the Mercer legacy for future generations.

Late Bloomers Garden Club, Jacksonville, Florida, will fund new plants and work toward reconstruction of the Italian Garden at Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, which suffered unprecedented flooding during Hurricane Irma.  Since 1999, the club has been an important partner in maintaining Cummer Gardens through financial and volunteer support.  Restoration Initiative funds will make improvements preparing the site to withstand future storms, while honoring its historic character.

For more than a quarter century, Magnolia Garden Club in Beaumont, Texas, has supported Beaumont Botanical Gardens, the oldest public garden in Southeast Texas.  Immediately following Hurricane Harvey, displaced feral hogs invaded the gardens, uprooting and eating much of the plant material.  Funds from the GCA will help the club and city enclose the gardens with hog-proof fencing and restore the ravaged Monarch Butterfly Waystation, Pollinator Garden, and Grandmother’s Garden.

Since 2007, The Portland Garden Club, collaborating with Oregon State Parks, has worked to remove non-native invasive species in the Columbia River Gorge, the largest national scenic area in the United States and the greatest concentration of waterfalls in North America.  The 2017 Eagle Creek fire, ignited by a youth shooting off fireworks, badly damaged scenic waterfall trails in the gorge and burned most of the native groundcover, leaving the area highly vulnerable to invasive species.  Restoration Initiative funds will be used to purchase native groundcover starts for planting by club members.

Savannah’s Forsyth Park will be the beneficiary of Restoration Initiative funds awarded to Trustees’ Garden Club, Savannah, Georgia, long-time steward of the park through volunteer and financial support.  In 2016 and 2017, the historic thirty-acre park, one of the oldest public parks in the country, incurred serious damage from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.  Restoration Initiative funding will enable a partnership with the city to proceed with historically appropriate replanting.

“2017 was a difficult year for many in the GCA family, with far too many of our club members losing their homes as well as their gardens,” said GCA President Anne Neal Petri.  “Given these challenges, it has been gratifying to offer assistance through this new Restoration Initiative, which underscores the GCA purpose of restoring, improving, and protecting the environment, as well supports affected club projects.”


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