The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Our Public/Private Partnership Part 2

Gordon Young

Gordon and Sareth Roeun Preparing the expanded bed at the Pavilion Garden

In the next month, we will be adding a low fence to deter people from taking a short cut from the parking lot through the garden to get to the pavilion. One thing that has surprised me about public spaces is the human instinct to take the shortest route from point A to point B even if one must walk directly over beautiful gardens.

In the past year, while we have been obtaining funding for the fencing, I noticed that large trucks liked to back up into these protected and long parking spaces and inadvertently crushed the temporary fence that we had installed. In order to have the new fence saved from this fate, the garden needed to enlarged by about five feet to create room for the bumpers of large trucks. That meant we needed to expertise of Public Works employee Gordon Young. Gordie, you see, is a backhoe operator extraordinaire.

There is no project that we have taken on that didn't involve Gordie. The Boccelli Garden was created by removing 2 feet of rubble and replacing it with loam and manure. Gordie skillfully relocated the existing granite foundation on the site to create the edge of the garden bed. The Boccelli Garden looks like it has been in place for decades thanks to Gordie and the Public Works crew. Nubanusit Terrace also required Gordie's talent with the backhoe to again remove poor soil and replace it with rich, dark loam to create a garden. Gordie was also instrumental in creating the stone walls at the Ruin Garden with stone artist, Ron Higgins at Teixeira Park.

You might expect a gruff guy when you first meet the long-bearded Gordie behind the controls of his backhoe. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gordie is a quiet-spoken man and has been a pleasure to collaborate with during the many projects we have done together. The Parks Committte has been very fortunate to have Gordie's expertise creating gardens and enhancing the parks in Peterborough.


  1. True craftspeople come in all guises, and their work may not be ostensibly glamorous. It sounds like Gordie is indispensable. Enjoyed this very much.

  2. Hi Faisal,
    I think that is the perfect way to put it. Yes, Gordie is indispensable. He an unsung hero. Thanks so much for your comment.

  3. Several great points here!
    The marvels of skilled people.
    And how important it is that their skills get highlighted.
    And the need to design accounting for human behaviour!

  4. Robert,
    Yes, None of our projects would work without theses skilled people. I certainly couldn't do it! I think figuring out what the garden visitor might do in and around the garden has been my biggest challenge and greatest learning experience. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments, Robert. Thanks!



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