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Arboretum to reopen ahead of schedule after windstorm

December 23, 2011 | 11:54 am

Arboretum to re-open early
The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, where Santa Ana winds wreaked havoc on the historic collection of plants several weeks ago, will reopen Monday, a week ahead of schedule.

The Arcadia botanic garden, one of the largest in the nation, was closed for clean-up and rehabilitation after the storm. It is home to more than 10,000 types of plants from around the world. The winds destroyed 235 trees and damaged hundreds more, said Richard Schulhof, chief executive officer of the arboretum.

Hundreds of workers, both county staff and volunteers, joined in the clean-up effort. The arboretum also set up a fund to help with replanting. Schulhof said well-wishers have donated more than $22,000 to the fund.

In some areas, they will replace the downed trees with the same species.

"In other areas we see an opening to create plantings that speak to the current very important focus on water conservation," including California natives and Mediterranean species, Schulhof said.

In some cases, staff has tried to salvage severely damaged trees because they are rare species, or have a special meaning to the garden, such as a 100-year-old Montezuma cypress.

The garden's many fans have been waiting eagerly for it to reopen.

Dianne Flood, 69, of Sierra Madre, has volunteered to lead educational tours for schoolchildren in the arboretum for the last 10 years. Flood said she loves taking children through the prehistoric forest and down to Baldwin Lake where they sometimes spot birds such as egrets, herons and cormorants.

Flood had been anxious to check on her favorite trees, such as a big eucalyptus in front of Queen Anne's Cottage. (It survived.)

"I was really upset, wondering about what it was like. It was frustrating not to be able to go and see," she said. She tried to satisfy her curiosity by looking at videos online and peeking through the fence. She finally got a chance to survey the damage when she went in with an Audubon bird-watching group last weekend.

"Some of my favorite trees were will standing, but others were in ruins," Flood said.

She said she plans to be waiting at the gate on Monday.


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Photo: Richard Schulhof, chief executive officer of Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, stands on a toppled 140-year-old eucalyptus after the recent windstorm. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times