The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ghosts in the Garden

The Ruin Garden in Teixeira Park

Teixeira Park: The Ruin Garden and Malus 'Prairifire'

Malus 'Prairifire' along the sidewalk at Teixeira Park

Recycled Granite in the Ruin Garden

Boccelli Garden with former foundation stones used as edging

Old Granite Post at Boccelli Garden

The Pavilion at Depot Park is reminiscent of the Old Depot at nearly the same location

Another Antique Granite Post with recycled granite pavers used as an edging

The Wall at the Lower Garden was the foundation of the original barn

The Yew Hedges form a garden room where the barn once stood

Recycled Curbing form steps in the Hall with Balls

Granite Path in the Hall with Balls

Boston Bricks and old granite pavers are used for the front walkway

Old Granite and Brick in the Lower Garden

A volunteer of the native Cornus alternifolia near the shed

The Ghost project in Nova Scotia brought to mind the ways in which we can make our gardens feel like the place they are in, respect the past history of that place but also be in the present day. In the public gardens in Peterborough and me own garden, I have tried to take all these factors into consideration.

We planted a grove of Malus 'Prairifire' along the sidewalk at Teixeira park to evoke the apple orchards of New England and to attract birds. The Ruin Garden uses salvaged granite to create a structure for the butterfly-loving-plants. It feels ancient in some ways but also somehow modern.

The Boccelli Garden uses the foundation stones that were on the site to create the edging of the garden. The "ghost" of the Boccelli's home and the story of the immigration from Italy in the 1920's and their integration into the Peterborough community is waiting to be told.

The design of the pavilion at Depot Park is an open version of the original Rail station that stood in the same location. Our rich history of railroad transportation in a rural town is honored. Both the Boccelli Garden and the Pavilion Garden at Depot Park utilize antique granite posts in their designs which respect our history.

In my own garden, the foundation of a former barn is the perfect backdrop for a garden. I have plated a yew hedge that creates living walls and a garden room where there the "ghost" of the barn once stood. The stone used for the focal-point bench is a slab of granite from the foundation that was left in the yard. Recycled granite is a recurring building material that is used over and over again in both the public parks and my own private garden.

In New Hampshire, known as the granite state, granite is an easy and effective material to use to create a sense of place. What I find more challenging is to make the gardens and public spaces reflect our contemporary lives. I am attempting to use plants that are "the right plant in the right place" and need less resources to maintain but I like the challenge of using unusual plants that satisfies ones desire to see something fresh, new and unexpected. The Ghost project was a wonderful model and inspiration to do that in both the public and private gardens that I work in.


  1. U no I love your use of structure and it is such a great point about the resonances of the materials we can use if we recycle and source with care. Facsinating to see the inspiration you get from other places like Nova Scota!
    Thanks for this great post.

  2. The more I think about the it, the more I realize the structure is a very important part of a garden for me. If the bones are good, the garden is half way done. Glad to know we are in the camp!

  3. Ghosts in the garden ... yes! I agree, and what a good metaphor.

  4. James, yes and there are also the seasonal ghosts that form the autumn and winter interest in the garden.

  5. New Hampshire certainly has beautiful stone and lots of varied stonework. I'm glad to see that it is still used so often in the garden. Now if you could only ship a few slabs to me in NYC! Hope you're enjoying your summer.


  6. Having a great summer, Michael. Oddly enough, some of the cobblestones we used for edging were recycled from the streets of Boston and New York that were being repaved!

  7. Being such 'ruin romantic', I just love the old barn foundations in your 9th picture. In Finland, granite has also traditionally been used for building breathtakingly beautiful barns. I would love to find a really old one and transform it into a summer house/atelier. So many dreams, so little time...

  8. Yes Liisa, i am very fortunate to have that old wall to build the garden around. I would love to see one of the barns. Keep never know what might happen!



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