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Gardening Downtown: Pepperell

In addition to maintaining annuals in front of Town Hall and at the rotary, the Pepperell Garden Club began, in 2000, to plant ornamental trees, shrubs, and perennials on private properties along Main Street between the rotary and the Nashua River bridge.

Their annual plant sale pays for the plants. Members of the club’s Main Street Beautification Committee put the plants in place. The Pepperell Highway Department pitches in with the heavy work. The only thing property owners do, is water their new gardens.

In front of the L. F. Robbins Insurance Agency, a Crimson King maple now grows; it can eventually get 50 feet tall. Tall composite-stone planters in front of Country Furniture hold dwarf alberta spruce; lower ones took graceful, nodding perennial oat grass; both also have room for annuals.

One of the more ambitious projects was at Lorden Hardware, where the asphalt of the big parking lot adjoins the asphalt of the sidewalk, which extends to the curb. In 2002 the highway department dug holes for three flowering crabapple trees, and installed special iron gratings to protect them from the sidewalk.

This year the committee has their eye on an ugly chainlink fence, which they hope to hide by planting gold threadleaf cypress close by — but not too close. Without getting strangled in the chainlink, the whip-like branches and slender leaves could still grow through it just enough to replace the sight of the metal with a highly decorative hedge.

On the raised wooden sidewalk under the old-fashioned porch along the front of the McNabb stores, half-whisky barrels hold shade perennials. This year the committee plans to add more, including two full-sized, to add variety in height. To go in them: large-leaf hostas and ferns.

In front of the Nissitissit Group office, mulch covers a substantial slope, dotted with a few junipers and one gold threadleaf cypress. To enrich this landscape, viburnums will hide unsightly meters in the front of the building; gold mound spirea (echoing the bright cypress color) will cascade over a stone wall and back up the company’s sign.

At the apartments next door, an existing planter, low by the sidewalk, can’t take shrubs because snow removal can shear off anything above ground. Perennials that die down to the roots in fall will come back fine: delicate blue Russian sage, long-blooming rudbeckia goldstrum, mounding Sedum sieboldii.

Next year, says Lorraine Prost, commitee chair, they’ll tackle L-shaped Paugus Mall, with its two parking lots.

Photo by C.H. Clark - Bright-blooming crabapple tree between sidewalk and parking lot

Text and photo © Copyright 2005 Catherine Holmes Clark

Published in the six Nashoba Publications papers on Friday, 27 May

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