The Japanese-style garden was designed and built by students enrolled in my Introduction to Life Sciences class in the spring of 2009. The garden is only one bed in a series of gardens that run along the river in downtown Dover that are collectively known as the Joe B Parks Riverwalk Public Gardens. Joe himself approached me in 2008 to ask if my students and I wanted to collaborate on this project. Joe has since passed away, but my students continue to visit the garden once or twice per year to complete basic garden maintenance such as pruning, fertilizing, and mulching.
As the garden enters its seventh year, significant wear and tear is evident. The stone wall built by students in 2009 is falling down and the plants (many of which were donated by Joe from his own property) have suffered due to poor soil conditions and competition for water from the three mature pine trees that pre-date the creation of the garden.
The Dorr Foundation and New Hampshire Master Gardener Association grants will help to fund a major renovation of the garden by rebuilding and extending the wall with the help of a local stone mason and by amending the soil using a permaculture method known as sheet mulching. Sheet mulching involves the improvement of soil through the deep layering of organic materials such as cardboard, compost, and hay. Several of the suffering plants will also be removed and replaced with shade-loving, drought-tolerant plant varieties such as ferns and azaelas.
The hope is that as a result of this renovation, the Japanese-style garden will thrive and continue in its dual purposes of downtown beautification and outdoor classroom for years to come.