Newport Harbor Walk
Perrotti Park, 39 America’s Cup Boulevard | Newport, RI 02840
The two and a half mile-long Newport Harbor Walk was originally conceived by the Newport nonprofit organization Friends of the Waterfront to prevent the disappearance of public access to the harbor area during a period when heavy development was taking place around the harbor and public access was being threatened and even denied. These enduring public access pathways can be traced back to colonial times and now make up the Harbor Walk. The Newport Harbor Walk Garden Project, a collaboration of Master Gardeners and Friends of the Waterfront, was approved by URI Master Gardeners in 2015 and ‘launched’ its first three dinghy planters that spring.
The Newport Harbor Walk Garden Project’s mission is three-fold:
- To benefit the whole community by making Newport’s Harbor Walk more visible and inviting to citizens and visitors alike
- To educate the public to the fact that public rights-of-way still exist, are of great value to both the city and the state, and should be protected
- To educate the public about the benefits and beauty of planting and growing RI native plants and the benefits to the watershed and harbor of installing and maintaining rain gardens and employing IPM and responsible fertilization practices
During the first season for the Harbor Walk Project, project volunteers focused on two historic parks and one popular wharf on the Newport Harbor Walk. The first one, Perrotti Park, is a small park located right in the heart of colonial Newport. It is here that cruise ship, ferry, and sight-seeing vessel passengers disembark and embark, and it is here that these same passengers get their first real view of the city. The second, King Park, is a municipal park at the end of Harbor Walk. There is a public beach and boat ramp here as well as athletic fields and play equipment. The third location is Scott’s Wharf, a popular wharf off America’s Cup Avenue and near the Mooring’s Restaurant. A large nautically-themed container garden was designed and installed at each location. These over-sized containers were designed, installed, and maintained by Master Gardeners, but the planting of each was done at publicized events so members of the community helped in the actual plantings.
In 2016, due to waterfront development and beach erosion along the Newport shoreline two repurposed boat planters were installed to serve as crucial habitats for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators. These up-cycled dinghy planters provide a variety of native Rhode Island plants as the food and nectar sources for adult monarchs and caterpillars. Both of these planters included RI native plants that were grown from seed from the Rhody Native Initiative. These 2 new planters were installed at the Maritime Center on the harbor side and at Spring Wharf. Recently, the Harbor Walk Dinghy Planters received national recognition by the Monarch Joint Venture a national partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs working together to conserve the monarch butterfly migration.
This Harbor Walk Dinghy Planter program will continue to expand in 2017 by helping the city of Newport plan, install, and maintain a small demonstration rain garden at King Park; along with the installation of another dinghy that is being built by the students at the International Yacht Restoration School for Mary Ferrazzoli Park on Long Wharf. In the years to come the long range goals include placing dinghy planters at all of the 23 rights-of-way points along the Harbor Walk along with additional rain gardens.
This approved project is now in its third year. It is classified as a direct education service. Master Gardener volunteers are needed to perform a variety of tasks: designing and installing; weeding, deadheading, employing IPM as needed, fertilizing, and watering; mentoring volunteers; answering gardening questions the public may have; and presenting planned educational programs related to the work being done. Volunteers will be asked to sign up for specific tasks they wish to be accountable for on a weekly basis. The planters, all located in busy areas around the harbor, need care every day during the growing season and less frequently during the colder months (planters are designed to be interesting all year long). Demonstrations and gardening talks will be scheduled for a few Saturdays during the growing seasons and will take place at King Park.