Town of Peterborough Parks consist of Putnam Park (on Grove Street), Nubanusit Terrace (on Grove Street by post office), Boccelli Garden (below Post and Beam Brewery), Depot Park (behind the Toadstool Bookshop) and Teixeira Park (in West Peterborough).
It began when Michael Gordon was a member of the Parks Committee. He designed and redesigned all the parks, public spaces, and gardens over 18 years, bringing them to the high standard and quality that remain today. Since his retirement in 2015, Maude Odgers stepped up to oversee the gardens as she had been there since their inception. Maude has over 30 years’ gardening experience and has her own garden-design business, “The Artful Gardener.” She has volunteered in the town gardens for almost 25 years. She serves on the Parks Committee along with Terry Reeves and Douglas Proops.
- Depot Square Park
The Pavilion Garden which is an entry way into the park was originally designed by Michael Gordon. The Pavilion building was designed by local architect, Susan Phillips-Hungerford to replicate the train depot that originally stood near this site. In 2000, a path was added leading to the pavilion and the gardens along side it. Yew hedges (Taxus ‘hickii’) were planted and in time they were clipped in a wave-like shape mimicking the style of Dutch garden designer, Piet Oudolf. Other yew hedges were added to Depot Park and clipped in this playful wave pattern. On the outermost of the Pavilion Baptisa ‘australis’ (False Indigo), ‘Windspiel’ grasses and dwarf ‘Miss Kim’ lilacs were planted to create a barrier from the parking lot to the pavilion giving it a sense of enclosure and separation from the parking lot. Masking each side of the pavilion are English oaks (of which one was sadly destroyed by beavers and had to be replaced). Within the long narrow borders lining the pathway are a mixture of springtime bulbs, interesting and unusual perennials and annuals added yearly. The granite sentinels at the entrance were also acquired from Peterborough Marble and Granite Works. Near the pavilion sits a granite trough in honor of local artist, Daniel Thibeault’s late wife, Joannie.
The opposite entrance of the park (by Bowerbird and Friends) is named “Peter’s Gate” in honor of the late Stanley Peters, an icon in this town, along with businessman Edward Lobacki and attorney Catharine Sage. The stonewalls, including the amphitheater and sitting area, and the small pavers at the entrance to Peter’s Gate were installed by the late and talented, stone mason, Jim Rodrigues.
Depot Park was originally where the railroad came into Peterborough. It sits on the confluence of the Nubanusit and Contoocook Rivers and for many years served as the town’s parking lot. In 2000 a dedicated group of residents, called “Downtown 2000” raised money and bought the land and undertook reviving the land and the surrounding buildings. Vermont garden designer and author, Gordon Hayward, was brought in for the original design of the park.
- Putnam Park
Putnam Park was deeded to the town by Miss Catherine Putnam shortly before her death in 1962. She had always loved this land and wanted to give it as a gift to the town with the provision that no buildings were ever built on it. The park is a little over two acres and sits along the Nubanusit River. In the 1950’s the park was redesigned with hemlocks, maples, linden and beech trees. In the early 90’s, the then very dark and overgrown park was opened up by removing and pruning some shrubs and trees creating added light and space. Around 1999 more clearing was done, especially in the back and a few trees were added: including a Stewartia, Halesia (Carolina Silverbell) and a Heptacodium (Seven Sons). As gardens were added so were large pieces of local granite which were brought in for benches and tables. Gordon designed large comfortable “signature” Adirondack chairs with wide arms for picnicking. The chairs have the Town of Peterborough logo etched into the back side of each chair. The entrance was enlarged adding shrubs (Fothergilla major ‘Mt. Airy’) and numerous unusual perennials and annuals. Early to mid 2000’s paved pathways were installed making the walking easier, along with a rain garden to help prevent erosion from heavy rains. Every season more plants and bulbs are added to all the gardens within this park. The rock path through the entrance is named the “Love Path” in honor of Laura Trowbridge and her sister who installed it, as their maiden name is “Love.” The two granite sentinels at the entrance garden at Putnam were acquired from John Kaufhold, owner of Peterborough Marble and Granite Works.
Nubanusit Terrace is an elegant little pocket garden on Grove Street (next to the post office) that looks over the Nubanusit River and onto Putnam Park in the distance. The building that once stood in this spot burned down in 1941, opening a lovely view of the river and cascading waterfalls. In 2002, Gordon added a formal yew and boxwood hedge with the intention of shielding the street from the sitting area so that people could quietly enjoy the river. To maintain its elegance white tulips, tall white nodding onions (Leucojums), and giant white alliums rise above the boxed in hedges creating a striking show in the spring, followed by silvery Russian Sage (‘Perovskia atriplicifolia’).
Across the street is the Boccelli Garden. This half acre piece of land was named after Michael (1882-1949) and Maria Boccelli (1885-1964), who were Italian immigrants who once owned the land and house that stood on this property, that was often used as a boarding house during the Depression. When the town acquired this land in 1983 the house, in disrepair, was removed. The lovely, large apple tree near the river still stands where it was planted by Michael Boccelli. In 1999, the granite from the foundation was used to create the front edge of a long-mixed border (60’ x 16’) beneath the granite wall below what is now the Post and Beam Brewery (then the GAR Hall). The garden is planted with an assortment of unusual small shrubs, trees and plants of different seasonal interest with varying heights, textures and colors, following the succession-planting style of the great and late Christopher Lloyd, and his continued head gardener, Fergus Garrett, of Great Dixter Gardens, in Sussex, England. In 2013 Stan Fry donated the boulders to create the stone retaining wall along with the soil and helpers to create the lower garden near the river. Odgers designed the bluestone patio at the end of the long border and Fry donated the bluestone and the sentinel granite post at the corner. Our Town Landscaping helped with the installation. The two granite sentinels in the long border were also from Peterborough Marble and Granite Works.
- Teixeira Park
Teixeira Park, a/k/a The Ruin Garden sits in West Peterborough, on Union Street, across from the post office and next to Nubanusit River. It was given to the town by Pearl Teixeira, wife of Louis Teixeira in 1969. Louis Teixeira immigrated to this country from Portugal in 1929, at the age of 14, and went on to become a Selectman, and was said to be “the mayor of West Peterborough.” In 2006, the living family members were consulted with about reviving the park which had been neglected for many years. With their permission and approval, 12 crabapple trees (Malus ‘Prairiefire’) were planted along the sidewalk next to Union Street to help enclose the park. The granite structure in the center known as the “Ruin Garden” was built by local West Peterborough stonemason, Ron Higgins. Higgins wanted it to feel whimsical, inviting and safe for children to play in, under and around. He and Gordon also collaborated on the design of several seating areas, including a picnic table, around the perimeter of the park, along with seating down near the river, using local granite. A few trees were removed to create open expanses of lawn for play. The entrance to the park, on both ends, were planted with an assortment of prairie and woodland plants. The park’s intention was to attract birds, bees and butterflies and other pollinators. Bird experts, Lillian and Don Stokes, of Hancock, New Hampshire, were consulted as to the best way to achieve this. They suggested the crabapples (necessary for birds) and donated many of the pollinator plants and flowers in the interior of the “Ruin Garden.” Between the tall maples already there, along with the addition of the crabapples and the native shrubs along the river, it’s been an excellent environment for these creatures to thrive providing them with food, water and shelter.
Today the trees in all the parks in Peterborough continue to be pruned and maintained by tree expert Dan Tremblay, and his crew of Broad Oak Tree and Shrub Care, Inc.
New plants and flowers are added to all the gardens yearly. Currently, Maude Odgers, with the help of Terry Reeves, lead the many dedicated volunteers, who meet every Wednesday morning from April until snow flies, to keep these extraordinary gardens alive and thriving. It’s a mighty job done with love and devotion for “Our Town.”