The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Boccelli Garden: The Public/Private Partnership

 The Boccelli Garden is located on a small triangular plot along the Nubanusit River on Grove Street. Across the river, an old building is being beautifully renovated into a multi-use facility. There will be retail space, a bakery, condominiums and office space. The owners wanted to enhance their view of Boccelli Garden from their property and offered to partner with the town to make improvements including replacing a chain-link fence, cleaning out brush obscuring views into the river, building a retaining wall and new shrub garden and adding a bluestone patio adjacent to the Boccelli Garden.

There was a house and barn once owned by the Boccelli family in the first half of the 1900's where the garden is now located. I believe theses steps once joined the driveway to the barn. I have always admired them. Maude Odgers, a Parks Committee member and volunteer gardener, suggested that we put a patio and seating area in this spot.

Below the patio, a shrub garden was planned here.

This is a view from the Boccelli Garden to the property across the river. There is an unattractive chain-link fence along the river. Volunteer trees have obscured the view of the Nubanusit River.


This was the view of the Boccelli Garden from across the river.

Large equipment was required for the job.

The abutter donated granite to be used to make a retaining wall to form a terrace for the new patio.

All the scrub trees were removed along the river when the fence was dismantled. This is the view from the bridge on Grove Street. The ancient apple tree, planted by Michael Boccelli nearly 100 years ago, is nowa central feature to the park. Later in the season, tree work will be done to limb it up to enhance views from every direction.

Temporary Safety fencing was installed.

Excavation work was done near the stairs. The granite bench was relocated to the edge of the Nubanusit River.

The new retaining wall in progress.

A look from the street.

The new fence as seen from across the river.

The sand base layer to the bluestone patio.

The view of the apple tree from the patio. Note the granite bench was relocated by the river's edge in the middle of the photograph.

The fence looks handsome and the Boccelli Garden is now visible from across the river.

This is the same view from the other side of the river as the fifth photograph.

From the bridge: the retaining wall, the Boccelli Garden and Michael Boccelli's apple tree.

We have been extremely fortunate to have repeated pattern of private underwriting like this in our public spaces here in Peterborough. Private donations, grants and public investment feed off one another to create unique and beautiful public spaces and the volunteers work diligently to keep them maintained at the highest level possible. 


  1. Nice photos!
    Greetings from Holland, RW & SK

    1. Many thanks for your kind comment all the way from Holland!

  2. I agree with you on having all the donations and continuance of public garden spaces there. I must wonder if that's a nice peculiarity of New England, compared to, say, the wild west? Definitely there's an appeal to such a place!

    I also enjoy how such a project includes taking out invasive plants brush...that is so crucial.

    1. Peterborough is a special place. Community involvement is a rampant disease here. It has been going on here for generations. I'm not sure how it compares to the wild west.

      There are numerous invasive species growing along the river in Teixeira Park and Depot Park. Working to remove them is in my job jar for the next ten years. Taking them from the wall at the Boccelli Garden turned out to be fairly easy.

    2. I would say it is special...definitely different than little involvement out here. But we do have great weather and sunsets:-)

      10 years...I hear you! But a worthy task. These public gardens you show are inspiring, as we have many such possibilities in my area, and especially the rural, agricultural Mesilla Valley just north of me.

    3. I am jealous of your weather this morning. Good luck with trying the same thing in the Mesilla Valley! I'd love to visit some time.

  3. What a wonderful community collaboration! Something like this would take years to plan and execute here in DC. I love those old stone steps.

    I hope you had a wonderful and rewarding gardening season, Michael. It's been very busy for me, and I didn't spend much time in the garden this year. I didn't even plant bulbs :( Look forward to catching up on your posts.

    1. Hard to believe that it would take so long to accomplish such a small scale project in DC, Loi. Maybe in small towns there are fewer obstacles?. This all happened in about 2 months (idea to implementation) believe it or not. The steps are pretty amazing, aren't they?

      This was a good year. No big events, which made it low key. I did get to plant bulbs this year. Tulips can seem like an extravagance, so every year I try to add snow drops or camassias or glory-in-the -snow; something that the voles won't devour and will return each year.

  4. How fortunate all the players in this project can come together. It looks like a great spot for a garden.

    1. Les,
      I always thought the wall was a perfect place for the garden but it wasn't until the fence was replaced that the Nubanusit River was taken to it fullest advantage.



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