Dedication of Joe Parks Community Garden today in Dover

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

DOVER — The Joe Parks Community Garden will have its official debut today during a dedication ceremony to celebrate the more than 200 people who have contributed to the park.

The celebration will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the public garden, at 400 Central Ave., and will feature a series of speakers, include a few words by the park’s namesake and workhorse, Joe Parks.

In addition to providing the inspiration for the park with his own garden, Parks has donated numerous plants, designed the garden and put in several hours of labor to help complete the finished project.

Mayor Scott Myers, Ageless Dreamer Foundation Executive Director Laurie Widmark and representatives from the Dover Rotary Club and Dover Main Street will also speak at the dedication ceremony.

There will also be music and a reception following the ceremony.

“It’s been fun. It has really been great,” Beth Fischer, the projects volunteer coordinator, said. “Joe (Parks) wanted to give something to the community and it really is a beautiful garden.”

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.

In addition to hours of volunteer time, Parks donated several of his world-famous hybrid rhododendrons. several other plants and three sculptures from his garden.

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 Rhododendron Society.

Local Eagle Scout Steven Jencso has also worked with Connie Roy, of Reverie Design, and a group of Boy Scouts to redo the mural under the Chestnut Street bridge. Although the park has been mostly completed, the project is still looking for some volunteers for the work that has to be done to keep the gardens in shape.

“We are looking for additional folks who want to get involved to help us maintain the beautiful gardens,” Fischer said.

Project coordinators have also set up a trust through the city for donations to help maintain the garden.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the trust can make donations to the Joe B. Parks Riverwalk Public Garden Trust, C/O the Finance Department, City of Dover.