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HPPR Arts, Culture & History

Resilient: Amarillo Botanical Gardens and High Plains People


The Amarillo Botanical Gardens is a shining example of the pioneering spirit of the High Plains.  The hail of May 28 destroyed what late frosts did not reported the Amarillo Globe-News

Greg Lusk, Botanical garden director, put off surveying the damage as long as he could the morning after.  Lusk said, “It was worse than I thought.  Everything was mowed to the ground. We had hail 6 inches deep in some places. It just shredded the whole place. If plants weren’t hidden behind something, they were gone.” 

The $400 million dollar hail storm had taken its share of the Botanical Gardens, but it didn’t steal the spirit of Amarillo.  The next day, 48 volunteers, fed by Chick-Fil-A, cleaned until 10 p.m.  The day after, 25 continued working.  Lusk says about 200 different volunteers contributed by donating plants, trimming, pruning, mowing, weeding, fertilizing, planting, and cleaning.  Three nights after the devastating storm, a wedding went on as scheduled.

Lusk says today the average person wouldn’t be able to tell a difference.  Ken Pirtle, vice president of the botanical gardens board and a longtime volunteer says, “I just thought how this place has come a long, long way from what it was. It speaks to the resiliency not only of the plants in the Panhandle, but the people who live here.”

Visit the Amarillo Botanical Gardens website to see a slideshow of the destruction, as well as photos of the garden today.