South Triangle Garden
Located in the “Ponemah” section of town, this informal roadside garden has been cared for by different neighbors over many decades, and now by the garden club. The garden contains a colorful mix of drought-tolerant perennials and shrubs
About the Garden
The garden is located in a highly trafficked area at the intersection of Route 122 and Old Nashua Road. It is designed as a roadside garden, and a welcoming sight for motorists leaving or entering Amherst from the south.
As the garden is without irrigation, it is planted with durable, low-maintenance favorites such as purple coneflower, bearded and siberian iris, tall sedum (‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Neon’), liatris, russian sage, monkshood, artemesia, blue fescue, and Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Hortensia’ — a yellow flower that grows 6 feet in tall!
- The garden contains a large patch of milkweed, which supports the Monarch butterfly population.
- A granite block from the historic Mack Hill bridge placed beneath the pear tree provides a shady resting spot for weary gardeners.
History of the Garden
The South Triangle has had a long and interesting history. It is located on route 122, south of what is now 101A and at the intersection of Old Nashua Road and the Hollis road. Back in the 1800’s when it was then the custom to put large granite directional posts at key intersections to warn travelers of road turns, a 6-foot tall obelisk was erected by the state to show the intersection that connected Nashua Road to Hollis Road. On top of the granite was a 30-inch painted black sign with large white letters and the word PONEMAH fastened to its top with an iron post.
Over the years the local people, mostly folks belonging to the eight large farms located from Amherst Railroad Station to Hollis, made a short 200-foot dirt cutoff to make the turn onto what is now called Old Nashua Road, but back then was simply Nashua Road, as it was the main road to Nashua. This short cutoff was eventually deeded to the town by Harry Bartlett, heir to the Glover and Bartlett Farm located on Rt 122, and then later tarred to make the turn that we use today onto the Old Nashua Road, thus forming the triangle.
In the 1950’s Arthur C. Richardson, who owned one of the large farms nearby, planted a small blue spruce near the granite obelisk. He and a few nearby neighbors began to enhance this small space with morning glories, daffodils, and tulips in an unorganized casual manner, and the blue spruce grew to be very beautiful and quite large.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the Ponemah south triangle became a tangle of weeds and the large sign was stolen off its top. Hibbert Miles, who now owned the Arthur Richardson farm, made a smaller sign, routed out the word PONEMAH and painted it black with white letters, as in the original. He and Lloyd Mack, a neighbor, erected the new sign, which is as it is today.
Later still in the 1990’s, neighbors for a third time decided to do something about the triangle’s appearance, and the following people are known to have worked on its restoration. Mary Lu and Mark Chamberlain, granddaughter of Arthur Richardson, and daughter of Hibbert Miles, Ray Desmarais and Leora Desmarais, Marguerite Brockway and others were all instrumental in bringing in soil, removing debris and planting tulips, daffodils and morning glories.
The Ponemah South Triangle had a fourth revitalization in year 2000 or so when MaryAnne and Jack Conaway, Marguerite Brockway and others applied to the town and state to get permission to cut down the large blue spruce and undertook a major revitalization, enlarging the triangle and planting a Callery pear tree, replacing the blue spruce. This effort is well documented with pictures and files that were given to the Amherst Garden Club by Jack Conaway when the triangle was dedicated to MaryAnne Conaway upon her death in 2012.
In 2019 a Windham Russet apple tree seedling was planted near the pear tree. Today the South Triangle at Ponemah is maintained by folks living in the Ponemah area just as it has been for so many years gone by. It is now officially part of the ten civic gardens supported by the Amherst Garden Club and is a lovely spot to pass by when traveling to Hollis, Nashua and beyond.
The following people were interviewed and contributed information to this article: Jack Conaway, Charlie and Steve Desmarais, John Hanlon, Sandy Mack Lavender, Hazel Bartlett Scott, Mark Chamberlain and Brenda Miles Perry.