The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Peterborough Parks: Different Styles and Influences for Different Parks

The recent rains have breathed life and color back into the parks in Peterborugh. This is the Pavilion Garden at Depot Park. It has a very high proportion of annuals. I think of the waved yew hedges bordering this planting like a gargantuan pot for a huge container planting. It changes dramatically each year.

Susannah, Mollie and Laura stop working long enough to pose for a quick photo.

The planter at Peter's Gate at Depot Park

This garden at Putnam Park is three years old and beginning to fill in nicely.

There is a "block" style of planting used here like Piet Oudolf's earlier work which has influenced this planting. This garden is weighted toward grasses and perennials. One of the few annuals, Verbena bonariensis self seeds throughout the garden.

 The planter at Putnam Park

The Boccelli Garden was influenced by the "succession" planting philosophy of Christopher Lloyd and Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter. There is a mixture of cut-back shrubs, perennials, grasses, annuals, biennials and bulbs in this planting.

Teixeira Park's Ruin Garden has mostly native plants that attract birds, butterflies and pollinators. I think of Teixeira Park as the "wild" park in Peterborough. We tend to let the plants "duke it out" in this garden. Calamagrostis brachytricha, was one of the few exotic plants I used in this garden. Early on, I thought it might take over the garden, but as the other plants have filled in, it has not been able to handle the competition of the natives and is slowly being crowded out.

 The sunny East Garden at Teixeira Park is just a year old. It has a high proportion of native American prairie plants-- again attractive to birds and pollinators. It is looking a bit sparse its first season but thankfully almost all the plants survived the winter.

The new West Garden at Teixeira Park is quite shady. Mostly natives, like the rest of Teixeira Park, it has a very wild feel to it. Both the East and West Gardens incorporate a "blended" style of planting much like Piet Oudolf's most recent work.


  1. Thanks for sharing these, including that they are different contexts. These are fun, yet good designs...all. The Boccelli Garden and Pavilion Garden stand out with structure and how some plants' shaping mimicks the rock that's what such pruning is for.

    Imagining a New England trip to include seeing your town!

    1. let me know when you come to New England. I'd love to show you the public gardens here! There is good biking too.

  2. Lovely examples of planting. Much more pleasing than a formal layout so often used in parks as well as being sustainable.

    1. Time will tell how sustainable theses gardens are. It sure has been fun trying different styles of plantings.

  3. Michael, Might I suggest for some of the area's a reduction of 'range' and a beefing up of the numbers of many of the remaining plants. I always thought The old boy from Dixter used way too many plants and i found it all to be too cluttered..many will disagree! Another Brit the good Gertrude J realised very early on about the above..she wrote somewhere that when composing a garden plant list one should make a list of ALL the plants one might like to have and then to reduce them by (don't remember the equation) X amount (drastic reduction) they multiply X a decent percent..from experience i know it works and one need only look to natural plant colonies to see the same effect/result!

    1. Billy,

      Thanks for the insight, I really appreciate it. The Boccelli Garden has fewer plants in it today than it did 12 years ago when it was planted. Mostly because some plants crowded out others and I let the strongest plant remain. The gardens at Teixeira Park are an experiment-many of these plants I was unfamiliar with and I wanted to learn about them. I think there will much editing to come once I figure out who is happy where. Thanks for reminding me about the balance between diversity and creating a natural look with colonies of plants. I will have to take a walk about in all the gardens with that in mind. An experienced gardening mentoe of mine, no longer with us, recommended taking out the plants that are unhappy and adding more of the ones that are happy. That is probably my next step.

      How do reconcile your desire to try new plans that you find out about or interest you? I think I want to try too many plants!


  4. If I find one new plant a year that I might like to use its a big year! I don't really need any additional plant material unless it has what it takes to 'fit' into my scheme of things. My planting concepts are about plant harmony and not plant acquisitiveness..the majority of gardens fail in my not so humble opinion because of the latter! More often than not I give away any new plant finds rather than jam it in somewhere where it it is not really needed! This all sounds like a kill joy exercise but it is not! I like to choose plants for their versatility and to work them hard in many varied roles. Experimentation need not be about 'new' material!

    1. Early one, how did you pick plants for the garden? Did you only use plants on the site or did you try a lot of plants. I have what I call mission statement for each garden and I try to use plants that are right for the site and the feel of what I am trying to accomplish. I just was working in my woodland garden dividing epimediums making drifts so I am not only interested in new plants but if I see a plants that might work with my mission statement I want to try it. I wonder if I don't know enough about what I am trying to pull off because I see new and different gardens and get inspired in certain ways. Did you ever have a stage in your gardening evolution that felt that way? Thanks for challenging me!



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