West Martello Looks Ahead after Damage

West Martello Looks Ahead after Damage - A group of people standing on a rock - West Martello Tower

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Key West, quite the best, how does your garden grow? With hard work and conch shells, and determined gardeners all in row.

Facing the brunt of the Atlantic, the West Martello Tower, home to the Key West Garden Club, took a big hit from the unruly Irma. A large Strangler fig/ Banyon tree toppled in the center courtyard tearing away parts of the 1863 historic fort that can never be rebuilt. The rootball weighed 25 tons, and thanks to the County has already been removed.  Masses of debris and tree limbs at first threatened to cripple the popular site for months. Now two weeks later, Rosi Ware, President of the Garden Club, stood amidst the new “open” courtyard devoid of shade and dreams of a lily pond. While the Fort’s damages are a loss, nothing can stop the gardeners from replanting and re-envisioning the historic site into something better, and they are already at work. Thanks to funds from TDC, donations and muscle power, the garden will grow again.

“We replanted after Wilma and look, everything is still here,” said Ware marveling at her planning from 2005, “I may have to offer classes on hurricane proof plants next year.” The club saved their orchids, bonsais and even the peace park that Yoko Ono blessed remains surprisingly unscathed. Unfortunately, all weddings through October were canceled with full refunds but the Fort plans to reopen October 20th. “We may not be at our prettiest, but we will be safe,” said Ware, who will go forward with a November wedding and the annual Plant sale the Dec. 2, 3. “We lost a lot but not everything.”


Garden Club Members Rosi Ware, left, Donna Farrow and Marisol Mittnacht are already replanting West Martello. HAYS BLINCKMANN/Keys Weekly

Hays Blinckmann is an oil painter, author of the novel “In The Salt,” lover of all things German including husband, children and Bundesliga. She spends her free time developing a font for sarcasm, testing foreign wines and failing miserably at home cooking.