Volunteers pitch in to prep Dover’s new Joe B. Parks community garden

By JASON CLAFFEY Democrat Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 24, 2007

DOVER— Volunteers from Dover Main Street helped rake leaves, spread mulch, and turn over soil Saturday morning at the Joe B. Parks Community Garden to prepare for the addition of 100 plants and three sculptures along the Cocheco River downtown.

Beth Fischer, her purple sweatshirt specked with dirt and sleeves rolled up, led the cleanup effort.

“We’re trying to get more people out here… it’s a wonderful space,” she said. “It’s a piece of history.”

The plants and sculptures will be donated by Joe Parks, 92, a well-known local horticulturist. Parks has an expansive six-acre garden in the backyard of his Dover home on Long Hill Road. He has been asked to register his garden with the Smithsonian Institution.

Parks designed the plans for the planting of rhododendrons, ground covers, jack-in-the-pulpits, trillium, hosta, begonia, and tree peonies, as well as the three sculptures. He will donate one of his own bronze sculptures, a boulder with two hands emerging titled “Mankind.”

A variety of local businesses and organizations made about $40,000 in financial contributions to the project, and all the labor is being done free of charge by volunteers.

The garden, which was previously known as the Cocheco Riverwalk Public Garden, was renamed in September after Parks by a City Council resolution. The 1,300-foot garden starts at 400 Central Ave. near the Spinelli Building and snakes its way to the Chesnut Street Bridge and Dover Housing Authority’s Senior Housing Complex. “It’s marvelous,” said Hanna Jacoby, a volunteer who helped rake leaves. Patrick McElhiney, a member of the Dover Main Street Planning Commission, said the volunteer group also torched weeds as a preventive measure. The group also discussed specific design plans for individual plants. Contributions to the garden can be made to the Joe B. Parks Public Garden Project c/o Dover Main Street Program.