By Jim Haddadin
DOVER — A new shed beside the Cocheco River will help lighten the load for dozens of volunteers who help maintain the Joe B. Parks Riverwalk Public Gardens.
Located between 400 Central Avenue and Chestnut Street, the riverwalk is lined with wild flowers, rhododendrons, mountain laurel, hostas, daylilies and a variety of other plants. Volunteer caretakers have been tending the gardens since they were dedicated in 2008, bearing the name of local horticulturalist Joe B. Parks.
Until recently, the tools used to maintain the gardens were housed in a collapsible shed beside the park. The facility was recently replaced with a permanent shed, using materials, money and labor donated by a variety of local business owners and organizations.
The sponsors included: Dr. Sheila Kennedy; Dr. Robert Karelitz; Amy’s Treat, a foundation that supports patients at the Seacoast Cancer Center of New Hampshire; the Rotary Club of Dover; and W A Coolidge Company. The materials alone are worth about $1,700, according to riverwalk steering committee coordinator Elizabeth Fischer.
Formerly a neglected area along the Cocheco River, the riverwalk features a Japanese Garden installed and maintained by Dover High School horticulture students; Lorraine’s Corner, a meditation and healing garden installed and maintained by Amy’s Treat, and dedicated in memory of Dover resident Lorraine Goren; and several sculptures created and installed in the garden by art students from Dover High School, according to information available on the website of the riverwalk organization.
The space comprises 17 distinct garden beds, as well as public areas, all of which are maintained by volunteers. The shed, which was dedicated on Saturday, offers about three times the storage space as the previous shed on the site, said garden caretaker Steve Goren, of Amy’s Treat.“It’ll make it much easier,” he said, explaining the shed will reduce the hassle for the volunteers who tend the gardens.In the near future, DHS art students are planning to paint a design on the outside of the shed, which is located at the rear of the brick building at 400 Central Avenue.
Since the gardens are dependent on volunteers, Fischer said, any amenity that will make volunteering more convenient is a boon to the health of the riverwalk.
“I think, in many cases, it cements the longevity of this garden, because we’ve got a place where people can come and grab a tool and do some work,” she said