On August 10, 2020, a rare and severe weather event called a derecho resulted in widespread damage throughout Iowa; the costliest thunderstorm in U.S. history. The derecho was especially destructive to the Iowa Arboretum with winds officially clocked at 130 mph for 40 minutes, destroying 133 trees and severely damaged 81.The Des Moines Founders Garden Club was awarded a $10,000 GCA Restorative Initiative Grant with the funding to be put toward the purchase of trees and equipment rental related to replanting The Iowa Arboretum.
The Iowa Arboretum launched its “re-leafing” restoration program in the spring of 2021. On Arbor Day 2021, the Des Moines Founders Garden Club presented the Arboretum director with a check for $15,000. The gift was celebrated with the planting of the first tree since the Derecho struck. This was no ordinary tree. A Ginkgo biloba grown from a seed from one of the remaining trees that survived the atomic blast in Hiroshima was planted. As of August 2021, 65 new trees, 2 mixed perennial beds, and a freshly planted children’s garden had been added.
By the fall of 2022, approximately 150 remaining trees and shrubs planned were planted, and the Des Moines Founders Garden Club contributed an additional $15,000 to the project. The short term goal of replanting trees and shrubs had been achieved! The long term success will be realized as future generations watch these plantings grow and mature.