Botanical garden replacing plants lost in 2022 freeze

MADISON – Except for gardening enthusiasts, most people have forgotten about the drastic ‘flash freeze’ that occurred around Christmas in 2002.

The quick drop in the temperature to single digits and highs hovering at freezing for a few days damaged grasses, shrubs and trees . . . or killed many specimens.

“This year, Huntsville Botanical Garden began the process of replanting, restoring and renewing our gardens after the impact of last winter’s freeze,” Annette Alexander said in a recent email message. Alexander is the garden’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement. “We had to remove approximately 500 dead and/or damaged trees and shrubs.”

The freeze damaged several large, established specimens that are essentially irreplaceable in terms of design value and cost to replace, Alexander said. “It’s an expensive process to replace 500 plants, in terms of the cost of new plant materials as well as time and effort for the horticulture staff.”

Several varieties of shrubs constituted the losses:

* Camelias – Numerous evergreen varieties of shrubs that bloom in fall and winter with brilliant red, pink or white flowers.

* Loropetalums – Also called ‘Chinese fringe flower’ shrub. This fast-growing evergreen is in the witch hazel family with purple or white flowers.

* Viburnums — Showy shrub or small tree with clusters of white flowers, sometimes with pink highlights.

* Dystiliums — Evergreen, glossy shrub related to witch hazel that is heat-, disease- and insect-resistant.

Top priorities for restoration include Guest Center, Promenade and Dogwood Trail. “It will cost $75,000 in labor and materials,” Alexander said.

“We’re reaching out to ask for your gracious support. By planting new plants, we can provide a healthy garden for guests to enjoy,” Alexander said.

Donations will fund small- to large-scale landscaping:

* $25 – Replacing a shrub, such as a camelia or an azalea.

* $50 – Planting a flowering shrub, like a viburnum.

* $100 – Replacing a full-scale tree, such as a magnolia or redbud.

* $250 – Adding a specimen tree, such as a Japanese maple.

* $500 – Planting a small mass planting or screening of various shrubs.

* $1,000 – Replacing shrubs and specimen trees in a planting bed.

“We realize that many of you are confronting a similar challenge with your own landscapes. We appreciate any contribution toward this recovery effort,” Alexander said.

To donate, visit 15236.blackbaudhosting.com/15236/Garden-Appeals.

Huntsville Botanical Garden’s address is 4747 Bob Wallace Ave. For more information, call 256-830-4447, email info@hsvbg.org or visit hsvbg.org.

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