Relax in Lush Parks and Gardens

By Dennis N. Forney 

If ever there were a town of parks, Lewes is it. And it is a town of parks enjoyed exuberantly by residents and visitors throughout the year.

On Saturdays during the high season of summer and fall, in a small pocket park on Savannah Road near Lewes Beach, residents and visitors buy savory barbecued chicken to support various community causes and their stomachs as they sit in the shade of a wooden gazebo, surrounded by flowering trees and colorful planters.

In Stango Park, which the Lewes Public Library overlooks, children play among stately swamp maples and smaller ornamental trees while parents and others read books in the cool of the shade.

In Mary Vessels Park, on Market Street, visitors to Lewes wander into a small gazebo surrounded by four-season plantings with cups of coffee and pastries from the café across the street.

And in the many-thousand-acre Cape Henlopen State Park – for which Lewes serves as a gateway – people interact with beautiful natural surroundings in hundreds of ways.

In 2003, the combination of Lewes parks, private gardens, and the efforts of the Lewes in Bloom Committee resulted in the town receiving a firstplace award from the America in Bloom organization for communities under 5,000 population. The volunteer committee festooned the town with wooden barrel planters that brought friendly color to the main business section and hung baskets of perennials from the railings of the drawbridge, for the enjoyment of bicyclists and walkers, and along sidewalks throughout the commercial section of town.

The parks of Lewes include unimproved public places like the fishermen’s park at the end of Cedar Avenue on Lewes Beach and Prickly Pear Park, which is an expanse of natural coastal dune ecosystem between two public beach parking areas. Other parks such as Zwaanendael Park behind the Zwaanendael Museum and the 1812 Park on the canal near the drawbridge represent the opposite end of the cultivated spectrum with careful plantings, fountains, historic cannons, park benches, and bricked walkways. Near the heart of town, Canalfront Park was completed in the summer of 2009. Parks add another reason to why Lewes is known as the First Town in the First State.