The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park in Frank Sound will be celebrating its re-opening on Saturday, 30 April with free admission to visitors and a ceremony at 4pm.
Minister of Tourism the McKeeva Bush will host the event together with Tourism Attraction Board CEO Gilbert Connolly, the General Manager of the park, Andrew Guthrie, the National Trust and Friends of the Park. Light refreshments and entertainment will be offered.
‘Even though the storm was devastating to the park, it also provided new opportunities for landscaping,’ said Mr. Guthrie in a press release. ‘Visitors will be amazed at the resilience of the native plants in the 40-acre nature preserve. It demonstrates the strength of nature’s ability to recover and the natural cycle of this habitat and this region. We left many of the fallen trees and vegetation in the preserve so that over the years, the nutrients will return to the soil and continue to help teach us about the cycle of our native plants.’
Prior to Hurricane Ivan, the park prepared as best it could by boarding up the buildings and moving garden furniture indoors, the release said. Staff also placed some rare plants inside, but they prepared to face the undeniable reality that the storm would cause major devastation.
Luckily, it did not cause permanent damage. The buildings survived quite well and although the grounds flooded, the park was spared the onslaught of salt water which would have killed just about everything in its path.
‘We were fortunate in many ways but especially in the fact that we did not flood more than we normally would during the rainy season,’ said Mr. Guthrie. ‘The plants that did not make it were lost due to the force of the sustained winds; many of the larger trees were blown down, and the ones that weren’t lost much of their canopies. Unfortunately, we also lost about two-thirds of our orchids.’
Mr. Connolly commented: ‘The park staff worked diligently to clear downed trees along the nature trail, pathways, and grassy areas. All of them should be commended for their efforts at rebuilding the park.’
Replanting began earlier this year, using plants grown and stocked in the nursery. A further 3,000 plants arrived from Florida in early April and another shipment will arrive shortly.
Those interested in purchasing nursery-grown plants can visit the park this week between 9am and 3pm. Although the park is not officially re-opened to the public, buyers can go to the gate and call the number posted for assistance.
Regular visiting hours for the park are: April through September, 9am through 6.30pm with last admission at 5.30pm; October through March, 9am through 5.30pm with last admission at 4.30pm.