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Pulling up stakes?

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Barbara Bochiardy thought she'd won. Last year, Orange County commissioners set aside $400,000 to preserve her West Orange property, six acres on the west bank of Lake Nally that is home to the remnants of Henry Nehrling's experimental Palm Cottage Gardens. Nehrling's writings formed the basis for much of the horticultural research that's surfaced since his 1929 death.

Bochiardy, an aging widow with knee problems, can no longer maintain her two-story Cracker house on the land -- but neither did she want to see it cleared to make way for suburban sprawl. Still, if the county didn't come through, she promised, she'd put it on the market.

Last week, Bochiardy did just that. Though the county pledged $400,000, its appraisals only valued the site at $250,000. Bochiardy wants $650,000.

She and members of the Henry Nehrling Society could still decide the garden's fate. Even if the county -- which is conducting a new appraisal -- commits its $400,000, the society must now decide whether to pay the difference. Preservationists originally wanted the county to buy the land and let the society operate it as a museum. But commissioners thought the price, along with the uncertain cost of running the museum, was too much.


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