by Dianne L. Izzo, RIWPS member and URI Master Gardener, who volunteers at the Beechwood Garden.
The North Kingstown Town Council granted the petition of the North Kingstown Senior Association (NKSA) to rename the Beechwood Gardens The Jules A. Cohen Gardens at the regular Council meeting on April 4, 2022. Mr. Cohen is Past President of the Master Gardeners and the Wild Plant Society, as well as Past President of the NKSA.
The Garden concept was originally proposed by Mr. Cohen in 2010, and as soon as the NKSA approved the proposal, he led the effort to make the gardens a reality by taking the following actions:
• Organized the approval, design, implementation, installation, maintenance and funding of the gardens
• Solicited licensed landscape architects, volunteers from the community, the URI Master Gardener program and the RI Wild Plant Society, and,
• Through a formal Memorandum of Agreement with the Master Gardeners and Wild Plant Society, obtained a commitment to maintain the gardens with regularly scheduled work sessions.
In addition, Mr. Cohen has —
• Established guidelines for the planting of native trees and shrubs with advice from experts• Obtained donations and acquired appropriate plants
• Together with the volunteers, planted all the materials within the Town guidelines and with the approval and assistance of the North Kingstown Department of Public Works
• Installed an automated watering system and takes care of annual maintenance of the irrigation hoses
• Provided for ongoing care of the garden environment by engaging professional arborists and contractors to preserve the integrity of the walkways and the size and health of the trees
• Provided a funding mechanism via appeals for donations to make garden purchases and pay for maintenance, including the sale of Memorials (trees, garden objects) and to ensure the longevity of maintenance funds, he formalized an endowment that has been placed in restricted accounts as shown in the NKSA financial statements
• Established a Garden Program at Beechwood for speaking presentations made to the larger community. Speakers are experts in subjects ranging from Favorite Native Plants to Worm Composting to Drawing from Nature and include URI faculty and environmental professionals. Generally five or six lectures are scheduled per year and these programs are widely advertised and attended. Cohen and volunteer Landscape Architect Kevin Alverson arrange all the programming and introduce each speaker. As part of the Education Mission of the Beechwood Garden Project, native plants are labeled, and a self-guided tour brochure is available to all visitors.
• The Gardens are now a source of beauty, inspiration, peace and pride for citizens of North Kingstown and the wider community, and we owe their existence to the work of many but most certainly to the inspiration and perseverance of Jules A. Cohen.
Congratulations to Jules for this well deserved honor!