Town of Peterborough Parks consist of Depot Park (behind the Toadstool Bookshop), Putnam Park (on Grove St), Nubanusit Terrace (on Grove St by Post Office), Boccelli Garden (below Post & Beam Brewery) and Teixeira Park (West Peterborough).
Our town would not have these high quality and extraordinary gardens, parks and public spaces without the artistic eye, vision, determination, and expertise of Michael Gordon. We are indebted and grateful for his work and care for the gift he has given to Peterborough. Michael Gordon was a member of the Parks Committee for 18 years and during his tenure he designed or redesigned all the parks, public spaces and gardens, establishing the high standard that remains today. Since his retirement in 2015, Maude Odgers has continued to oversee the gardens and the valued volunteers who care for them. Odgers has volunteered in the town gardens since their inception. Currently serving on the Parks Committee are Maude Odgers, Terry Reeves and Doug Proops.
- Depot Square Park
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.
The Pavilion Garden which is an entry way into the park was 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 Gordon added the path leading to the pavilion and the gardens along side it. Yew hedges (Taxus ‘hickii’) were planted by Gordon, who in time clipped them in a wave-like shape mimicking the style of Dutch garden designer, Piet Oudolf. Other yew hedges were added to Depot Park and also 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. Near the pavilion sits a granite trough in honor of local artist, Daniel Tibeault’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 Edward Lobacki and 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.
- 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, under the direction of Michael Gordon and the Parks Committee, 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, Helesia (Carolina Silverbeel) and a Heptacodium (Seven Sons). As gardens were added, so were large pieces of local granite which were brought in for benches and tables. Michael 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. In the 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. 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 of Peterborough Marble and Granite.
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, Michael 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. In an effort 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 Gordon used the granite from the foundation 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.
- 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 Michael Gordon consulted with then living family members 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. Both entrances to the park 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.” The addition of the crabapples to the existing tall maple trees and the native shrubs along the river guarantee an excellent environment for these creatures to thrive, providing them with food, water and shelter.
The trees in all the parks in Peterborough are 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 helps lead the many dedicated volunteers who meet every Wednesday morning from April until snow flies in order to keep these extraordinary gardens alive and thriving. It’s a mighty job done with love and devotion for “Our Town.”