The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Peterborough Parks: A Public/Private Partnership Talk

Tuesday I will be giving talk to to the Littleton, MA Garden Club on how the Peterborough Parks Committee creates and maintains the public gardens in Peterborough. I am excited to share my recipe for success, much of which I learned from Lynden B. Miller, who designs public gardens in New York City.

Here is part of the handout I will be giving the participants:

1) Design only what you can maintain at the highest level. Visit the best possible public and private gardens you can for inspiration. Make it gorgeous and keep it that way. Long-term maintenance is the key. Prepare soil properly from the onset.

2) Funding: start slow and show what you’ve done and grow. Keep trying to get grants even if you fail. Leverage success using volunteers to get public funding, public support and grants. Work toward a long-term endowment.

3) Mixed border works well for four-season beauty. Start with what it looks like in winter using hardscape and plants with winter interest (bark, berry, structure). Foliage is more important than flowers. Use the best and biggest plants you can get. Each park has its own mission statement or intention.

4) Set time and days so volunteers can incorporate time into their schedule. Have a specific plan for what needs to be accomplished each week.

5) Vandalism: Repair damage as soon as you see it!

“Make it gorgeous and they will come. Keep it that way and they will help.”
Lynden B. Miller


  1. Thanks very much for this, Michael. Timely advice! A garden club I'm in made and maintains a public herb garden that's now entering its sixth season. As we evaluate and plan, it's notable that our successes can be attributed largely to starting small, with well-prepared soil, and a maintenance system that promotes accountability [worked out after some lapses early on].

  2. Yes, Nell, starting small is helpful because you don't get overwhelmed and can maintain it well. How does the accountability work?



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