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Saturday's 'Open Days' Garden Tour Includes The Cummer's Restored Gardens

The gardens at the Cummer Museum are having a coming out party of sorts this weekend.

For many, this will mark the first opportunity to see the gardens since Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on Jacksonville and submerged the waterfront gardens in several feet of brackish water. 

The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens will be hosting the Open Days Garden Tour on Saturday, March 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Credit Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News
Cummer Museum and Gardens Director & CEO Adam Levine

Adam Levine, director and CEO at the Cummer, said what makes this year’s tour special is it marks a recovery.

“It'll be a wonderful opportunity for the public to re-engage with our gardens, which have been closed by and large since Hurricane Irma but are now under reconstruction and coming back to their former glory,” said Levine.

Thanks to donations from fundraising, restoring the gardens shifted into high gear in January. While the restoration isn’t complete, visitors will see lots of progress.

“The English Garden is almost entirely reconstructed. The Olmsted Garden is near complete, and the Italian Garden is underway with an estimated completion date of early July,” said Levine.

The exact cost of the restoration isn't available but Levine did say, “It's a significant expense on the order of magnitude of seven figures.”

The gardens had been in a state of disarray for 18 months, and Levine said it’s hard to overstate how important they are to the museum.

“I'm frequently asked, 'What is the greatest work of art that you have in the collection?' And the answer is the gardens,” said Levine.

The garden tours on Saturday will also include three private riverfront gardens in historic San Marco. 

The cost is $30 to see all the gardens or $10 at each private garden. Day passes and maps will also be available at The Wardroom shop at 1969 San Marco Blvd. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tickets and additional information are available at the Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens website.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.