Sections of Harry P. Leu Gardens reopen Sunday, after a crew of 100 volunteers and city staff cleared debris left by Hurricane Irma.

The 50-acre gardens and the historic Leu House Museum sustained significant damage due to Hurricane Irma and adjusters are still trying to estimate the cost. The gardens lost 175 trees, mostly hickory and magnolias to the storm.

The Leu House Museum, built in 1888 and designated on the National Registry of Historic Places, sustained damage when a Laurel oak limb crashed through the roof.

Harry P. Leu and his wife purchased the gardens in 1936. The Leus traveled all over the world and brought back many exotic plants and 240 varieties of camellias for their gardens. In 1961, they deeded the house and the gardens to the City of Orlando.

The gardens also took a big hit when Hurricane Charley downed 200 trees and the cleanup cost about $350,000.

“We had a huge, overwhelming response” to the request for volunteers to help with Hurricane Clean Up Day Saturday, said Cassandra Lafser, press secretary for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. The volunteers will clear and bag debris from 8 a.m. until noon Saturday, in preparation for the Oct. 1 opening.

The gardens are still looking for businesses or groups that want to volunteer during the week. Contact the gardens’ horticultural staff at 407-246-3620 to schedule a date and time.

Friends of Leu Gardens is also seeking donations to help rebuild and replant. For more information, go to:  http://www.leugardens.org/donate/

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