Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Airlie Gardens annual report: 275 trees lost in Florence, visitation down 16 percent

Airlie Gardens suffered some losses thanks to Hurricane Florence but is on the mend, according to the garden’s annual report Photo courtesy New Hanover County Government.

WILMINGTON — More than 124,000 visitors took in the sights at Airlie Gardens last year, but visitation is down by 16 percent in Fiscal Year 2018-2019, largely due to Hurricane Florence.

The Airlie Gardens Foundation Board of Directors is ready to make its annual presentation of the gardens to the New Hanover County Commissioners on Monday.

Airlie Gardens was closed for 43 consecutive days following Florence and the gardens suffered the loss of about 275 trees. Along with the loss of trees, according to the presentation, the gardens lost many camellias and azaleas that were crushed by falling limbs and trunks.

It took 388 hours of cleanup assistance from volunteers to get the gardens back up and running and 100 new trees and shrubs were purchased.

It wasn’t all bad news, though, according to the presentation. It was also the sixth year Airlie Gardens hosted the Gnome Invasion art exhibit. Fifteen, 5-foot-tall fiberglass garden gnomes were placed throughout the gardens that were decorated by local artists. The gnomes were then sold online at an auction and donated to several county facilities.

According to the presentation, Fiscal Year 2017-2018 brought in $1.72 million in revenue and operating expenses were slightly less at $1.27 million. Membership totals reached 2,110 and membership revenues were up 19 percent at $233,686.


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