Dover to rename riverwalk garden in honor of Joe Parks

By LESLIE MODICA Democrat Staff Writer
Friday, September 28, 2007

DOVER — Dover residents will soon be able to view Joe Parks’ community garden as they stroll down the riverfront. City Council approved a resolution to rename the Cocheco Riverwalk Public Garden in honor of Parks, whose community garden has been a staple of Dover for years.

Dover Main Street is organizing the establishment of the garden, which will feature Parks’ world-famous hybrid rhododendrons and three sculptures, two bronze and one granite, all donated by Parks.

The park is being built at no cost to the city. In addition to Park’s donations of rhododendrons and sculptures, he is contributing blueberry bushes to be planted along the pathway. The Dover Rotary club has also donated $4,000 to the project.

Ninety-two-year-old Parks has hybridized more than 22 types of rhododendrons and was asked by the Smithsonian to register his six-acre garden, which he has made available to the public in Dover. He is also formerly the president of the Massachusetts Rhodedendron Society.

The garden is part of a larger project to beautify the riverfront and extends along the Cocheco River from the Central Avenue bridge to the Chestnut Street bridge. The rhododendrons, which are specifically hybridized for disease prevention, will provide a burst of color to the area, Dover Main Street member Beth Fischer said.