The summer after Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, the state of New Jersey ran commercials boasting that The Garden State was “stronger than the storm.” Albertson-based Clark Botanic Garden countered that its pleasant plot of land couldn’t make that same claim. Trees had been destroyed and this longtime institution needed help.
And it got it. Nearly two years after Sandy, the 40 damaged trees at Clark have been replaced and the gardens remain open and in operation for the public to enjoy.
“We’ve completed all of our objectives,” said Jeri Dreitlein, an official at Clark. “We’ve replaced the 40 trees. We raised more than enough funding. In addition, we have replaced the shrubs and undergrowth.”
More specifically, Clark has planted 51 new shrubs, plus five cultivars to its growing collection of Japanese maples. They include: (Acer palmatum) – Ruslyn in the Pink, First Ghost, Peaches and Cream, Caperci’s Dwarf and Beni hime.
“These were intermixed with more mature Japanese maples, so that this area of the garden should be ablaze with fall color,” the Clark website stated. “In the same section of the garden, we also planted a Shirasawa’s Maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Autumn Moon’) with its beautifully lobed leaves and dramatic fall color.”
Among those contributions was by Arthur Katz, proprietor of Knockout Pest Control, who has agreed to match up to $2,500 of Project 40 donations that were received in March 2013. That helped to set Clark on its way to exceeding fundraising goals.
After the storm, Clark officials estimated that in addition to the 40 trees, up to 80 percent of the garden’s hives and bees, plus an untold number of shrubs and bushes were damaged, along with structural damage to the house, bridges, railings and fences.
Clark Botanic Gardens received assistance from the Town of North Hempstead. However, in order to replace its 40 lost trees, the gardens would have to be heavily dependent on charitable giving.
“The 12 acres of Clark Garden certainly weren’t stronger than Sandy and the follow up nor’easter of ,” the Clark website stated. “We were smacked, walloped, twisted, crushed, torn, mutilated, and broken to pieces.”
But that was then. Thanks to the generosity of their Long Island neighbors, Clark Botanic Gardens will remain a family-friendly place of destination for nature lovers for years to come.