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News: A GCA Reconstruction Grant Helps to Reopen the Cummer Museum


October 22, 2019

Assistance after natural disaster...

Hurricane Dorian spared the Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens last summer. Hurricane Irma wasn’t as kind in 2017. Causing catastrophic destruction along its path, Irma wreaked havoc on the landmark gardens in Jacksonville, Florida. The Restoration Initiative of The Garden Club of America provides assistance to clubs for landscape restoration and conservation projects in communities devastated by natural disasters. In 2018 the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens was the beneficiary of a grant. Thanks in part to the efforts of the Late Bloomers Garden Club of Jacksonville, the Cummer Gardens reopened this past summer after two years of reconstruction work.

Hurricane Irma brought record flooding to Jacksonville, where the coastline is shallow and concave making it vulnerable in hurricanes. When Irma was moved up the coast, the lower level of the Cummer Museum gardens were under water and had to be closed for many months. Although an aggressive water-flow system was in place prior to Irma; the torrential rainfall wiped out most of the plants and had to be replaced.  

Inspired by a long-time partnership with the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, The Late Bloomers Garden Club (LBGC) applied for a GCA restoration grant. In 2018 they were awarded a $10,000 grant to help fund new plants and the reconstruction work of the Italian Garden at Cummer, designed by the well-known Philadelphia landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman. 

 “The gardens are now at a substantial completion phase, but the plants need growth that will take several years,” said Keris.

Top left: Italian Garden at the Cummer Museum, Pre-Irma

Above: Italian Garden at the Cummer Museum and Gardens during Hurricane Irma


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