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Despite Damage From Sandy, Queens Botanical Garden Now Open For Spring

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TWC News: Despite Damage From Sandy, Queens Botanical Garden Now Open For Spring
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The Queens Botanical Garden opened on schedule Sunday, despite the garden losing more than a dozen trees and suffering some minor damage during Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Erin Clarke has the story.

Katarzyna Siedlik and her husband Anjay were married at the Queens Botanical Garden. Seven years later, they and their family keep coming back.

"I heard a lot of people were taking pictures here and they said the pictures are beautiful and the garden is so beautiful," Siedlik said. "That's why we decided."

They were strolling the garden on opening weekend Sunday -- taking in some of the garden's 39 acres of perennials, which are open to the public for the first time this year.

"It's a reminder of home in Poland," visitor Ewa Koziol said. It's the Spring and we're from Poland, so we're used to the beautiful spring and flowers blooming so it's kind of like home."

Free garden tours and arts and crafts helped kick off the 2013 season.

It's all part of the Botanical Garden's mission to educate. Staff say while it looks like a park, the garden is much more.

"We are a living museum. We have signage. We have teaching mechanisms and there is a cost at that," said visitors service and public programs manager Regina Forlenza. "I believe the cost is somewhat about $8,000 a day just to open our doors."

Some of those members have been using the garden as a sanctuary for years now -- as a place to practice Tai Chi.

"There is very little open space for people to exercise outdoors. I think it's very helpful for the elderly population to come out here," said Morning Exercise Group president Cliff Chin. "Not only is it physically good for them, but socially good for them."

They gave back to the garden when more than a dozen trees were destroyed in Hurricane Sandy.

"They've always, without us asking, just looked within themselves and raised some funds for us, whether it's after we lost the trees after Hurricane Sandy or the Mackel Burst tornado of two years ago," Forlenza said.

Thanks to that help, the Botanical Garden was able to open on schedule.

The organization is now looking forward to blossoming even more, with hopes of a bigger and better garden for future generations to come.

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