RED BANK — The mild weather has people thinking about gardening. That’s true for Rumson residents Bob and Karen Hespe. But the garden on their minds, and those of a handful of other volunteers, isn’t their own, but the one in Riverside Gardens Park.
As they have done for the past few years, the Hespes will be caring for more than 200 rose bushes planted in the park overlooking the Navesink River.
They, some of their friends and members of Rumson Boy Scout Troop 201, were on hand at the park last Saturday morning, to begin this year’s work of clearing, prining and preparing for some additional plantingt.
“I was taking a walk through here,” Hespe recalled, “and we saw how much work had to be done here.”
The park, which the borough constructed about a dozen years ago, is used in the warmer months for concerts and community events. The community also uses the park for recreation, weddings, photo shoots and school graduations.
The park has won awards for its design, but the Hespes long felt that the plantings in the park could use a little TLC.
“We spend so much time here,” Karen said, “It’s a nice place to come for a walk and it should look beautiful.”
Bob contacted Memone Crystian, the borough’s parks and recreation director requesting permission to care for the plantings and the director gave her permission.
Last year the Hespes and their fellow volunteers visited the park to care for the plantings 12 times, he said.
Last Saturday they arrived at the park around 9 a.m. to start th spring cleanup.
“We just dug and dug and dug out vines and weeds,” Hespe said.
The volunteers concentrated on the park’s 240 rose bushes, trimming them a little and cleaning the beds. Thankfully, Bob Hespe explained, rose bushes are pretty hardy. “They need that first hit,” with some pruning, he said, then, “they do their thing.”
“We focused just on the roses,” Karen added, “but there are a lot of things growing here and need work.”
They would know — the Hespes operate a modest gardening and landscaping business.
Sickles Market, Little Silver, donated a few hundred daffodil bulbs for planting in the park, and Bob Hespe
hopes that after this initial work the garden area will be in good enough shape to need only a once-a-month cleanup. They are hoping to find some additional volunteers to assist their current crop of helpers. “I know it’s a lot of work,” Karen acknowledged, “but it’s so much fun here and so many enjoy it, that it is really satisfying. But we could use more people.”