Dover students team up with city’s green thumb to grow Japanese garden

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

DOVER ā€” Today, it’s a model of the Japanese garden sitting on a table inside Room 128 of the Regional Career Technical Center at Dover High School.

Soon it will become a riverside retreat, its triangular design bordered by vegetation and rocks, with steppingstones, stonewalls and earthy pathways inviting people strolling through downtown to take a break.

Starting April 3, a dozen or more students from Heather Fabbri’s horticulture classes will team with the city’s resident plant expert, Joe Parks, to develop the garden between Orchard and Chestnut streets, near the public gardens named after him.

Their work will unfold Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., until May, and students will have to make up missed class time, Fabbri said.

“I wanted to be involved because I love planting anyway,” said freshman Amy Labelle, “and I’ve always had good luck growing things.”

Parks said he hopes the garden, which measures 43 feet by 43 feet and 30 feet and has broad community support, will ignite passion for such beautification efforts.

Labelle said it likely will. “I think a lot of people are unaware how much we can transform a place,” she said. “You can take just a dirt path and make it into something.”

The garden’s roots stretch back to the school’s first semester, when students created models for Parks to judge. He used the top three to build a compilation, but the task ahead rests largely with students.

“They will actually be involved in … planting the plants and in the years to come they will be maintaining it, pruning the plants and moving things if necessary,” Fabbri said. “The things they will be doing in the field are not things they will get to do in the greenhouse.”

Students are set to raise funds for one third of the roughly $3,000 project, with a private donor and Dover Main Street and the Dover Rotary Club picking up the rest, Fabbri said.

Community help is also welcomed, said Fabbri, who can be reached at 516-6978.