Spotlight: Hurricane Ike Visits Shangri La

Recently Kyra was catching up with Jennifer Buckner, Epiphyte Specialist at Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center on the Texas Gulf Coast (in Orange), after September’s Hurricane Ike. Jennifer explained that preparing for evacuation is very different depending on if a storm is going to bring more wind or more water. The high winds of Hurricane Rita three years ago ripped the roofs off the greenhouses and exposed precious orchids to damaging exposure to the sun. Some have still not recovered. So it was decided to put the plants under the benches to be out of the sun until the staff could get back in.

Holly Hanson, Volunteer Coordinator (and plant caregiver) explains how gut-wrenching it was to drive away. “You don’t know if what’s been done was the best way to protect the plants.” Unfortunately Ike brought water rather than wind, so many precious plants got soaked under the benches and most of the greenhouses are still full of water. She said the staff has been kind of depressed, but sees some benefits from the rebuilding and is celebrating with a Greenhouse Open House on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

The educational non-profit is faced with massive rebuilding. Not just a leader in ecological pest management, Shangri La was the first project in Texas to achieve LEED Platinum certification! Gary Outenreath, Director of Horticulture, has long been a leader in promoting safe and sustainable pest control, making sure visitors know that no toxic chemicals are used at the facility.

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