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Clark Botanic Garden upgrade means more flowers and research

Flowers in the greenhouse in Clark Botanic Garden

Flowers in the greenhouse in Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Clark Botanic Garden’s 12 acres of roses, daylilies, perennials and more will soon sprout another addition: a second greenhouse.

The North Hempstead Town Board allotted $700,000 for the project as part of the town’s 2016 capital plan passed last week. Work for the new 4,200-square-foot greenhouse is to begin in the spring.

The new steel and polycarbonate facility will join an older, smaller greenhouse and will feature two separate climate-controlled zones. This will allow for even more varieties of plantings at the garden, regardless of season, town horticulturalist Bonnie Klein said.

“There will be more space for more plants — plants that wouldn’t be able to grow otherwise,” Klein said.

Clark Botanic Garden is a living museum and educational facility based in Albertson that is open to the public daily. It offers a series of programs from children’s summer activities to discussions about plants.

But one greenhouse isn’t adequate to fulfill the mission as a botanic garden, North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said, adding that the second structure would not only allow for more production of flowers and plants, but also increased experiments and research at the garden.

“It isn’t just for pretty flowers,” Bosworth said of the facility on I.U. Willets Road. “It has a far greater mission.”

Although the working greenhouse will be closed to the public, visitors to the garden will reap the benefits by viewing the bounty of plants grown inside, Klein said.

Klein said her team has already started planning new plantings such as colorful rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and more.

The larger greenhouse is the start of a new vision for the garden more than three years after it was devastated by superstorm Sandy, Bosworth said. Extensive damage to trees, benches, railings and walkways from the storm left the garden closed for months.

Clark Botanic Garden dates to 1969, when it was first opened several years after Grenville Clark, a Wall Street attorney, donated the land to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The town of North Hempstead acquired the garden in 1989.

Klein said it’s high time for the garden, which is nearing 50 years as a town attraction, to be revived.

“It really has a lot of character, a lot of good bones,” Klein said. “We just have to bring it back to what it was and make it a healthy garden space.”

As part of a five-year capital plan also passed last week, the town board designated $150,000 for rehabilitation of the garden’s three ponds, to begin sometime this year. The board also authorized $500,000 for parking lots and walkways to be repaved with a more environmentally friendly permeable surface, beginning in 2017.

When these changes go into effect, the garden would realize its full potential, Bosworth said.

“I think we’ll be looking at a Clark Botanic Garden that will justifiably be called one of the jewels in the crown of North Hempstead,” Bosworth said. “I’m very excited as we see the garden literally bloom before our eyes.”

UPGRADES AT CLARK BOTANIC GARDEN

  • A second 4,200-square-foot climate-controlled greenhouse, to cost $700,000 with work to begin in the spring.
  • Pond rehabilitation, including sediment removal and pump work, to cost $150,000 with work to begin this year.
  • Repavement of walkways and parking lot, to cost $500,000 with work to begin next year.

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