Armstrong-Kelley Park

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History

A Short History of the Cape Cod Horticultural Society

The Cape Cod Horticultural Society (CCHS) was founded February 17, 1928 with 78 charter members, most of whom were professional gardeners. In 1931, two individuals, Mrs. Marion (Seaverns Williams) Kelley, Mrs. Mary Martha (Armstrong) McClary gave the CCHS parcels and, Cecil I Goodspeed made an additional gift of adjoining parcels in 1937 thus totaling the Park's 8.5 acres.

We know Mrs. McClary resided at Indian Knoll on East Bay Road.  Her father, Mr. Charles D. Armstrong (of Armstrong Flooring Co.) was an avid gardener and he planted extensive gardens behind Indian Knoll featuring box hedges, box trees, and specialty items.  Although the gardens behind Indian Knoll no longer remain, there were other family homes  across the salt-water creek on Easy Bay Road that extend to the water.  Most of the tidal wetlands bordering East Bay is now owned by Niraj Shah, co-founder of Way fair.  These gardens are part of a large parcel that was purchased in 2017.  The gardens have recently been removed making way for their development projects. 

Photos of the original Armstrong parcels and other family pictures have been donated to AKP and remain in our safe.

Unfortunately, we know little of Mrs. Templeton Kelley other than in her later years she was often seen trolling the Park.  There is speculation she resided in Bandeley Manor across from the Park on Main Street.

Mr. Goodspeed's family has been in Osterville for many generations and is a familiar name to village residents.

We are so pleased the Park remains the largest, oldest, privately owned Park open to the public free on Cape Cod.

Volunteers care for the land now known as Armstrong-Kelley Park.

In 1991, landscape architect, Alan Abrahamson, created a master plan for the development of the Park. The plan called for paths throughout the acreage and creation of heather, holly, rhododendron, conifer and ornamental gardens. The volunteers immediately started executing the plan. Here are some of the highlights since then:

1992 Dr. Harry Bowen created the Heather Hillside

1993 Mr. Woody Mills, curator of the Ashumet Holly and Wildlife Sanctuary, guided the creation of the Holly Dell.

1994 Osterville Rotary Club spearheaded by Nancy Starck, financed the Rotary Rhododendron Walk
General Gavin Memorial dedicated

1995 E. J. Jaxtimer constructed the wisteria pergola and memorial

1996 Trees donated by the Stimets Family and the Osterville Garden Club

1998 The front of the park renovated courtesy of the Landers Company

Starck family donation created the first three memorial benches
Woodland Walkway begins with donation by E. J. Jaxtimer

1999 Dedication of Gateway to the 21st Century celebrating 70 years of service

2000 Growers of Armstrong-Kelley Park begins with installation of 11 plaques

2001 9/11/01 tragedy memorialized on Woodland Walkway

2002 The apiary was launched

2003 The John Folk Water Garden created

2004 Weston Nursery’s Rhododendron Garden

2005 Liam’s train and Liam’s View dedicated to two year old Liam O’Neil

The third work shed was constructed in 2005 and 2006. All hand built by Ray White, Phil Perry and a rubber roof donated by Cazeault Roofing, Kevin O’Neil’s excavation and electrical work, and Overhead Door Co.

2006 Due to the efforts of Bartlett Tree Experts, our weeping cedar was the star of the New England Flower Show.

George II, a new specialty mower was added thanks to Mrs. Rowland

2007 Monge walkway initiated

2008 Wooden benches scattered throughout the park


2009 Large specimen tree donated by of Bartlett Tree Experts

2010 The John Folk Water Garden is redesigned and has Japanese water garden feel

Two more benches added by John Folk Water Garden

2011 American holly donated and dedicated by of Bartlett Tree Experts

2013 The area around the front sign was replanted and spring bulbs added

2014 Buddy's Walkway and Buddy's Place a pet memorial garden and boardwalk opens and a bench and birdhouse installed

2017 The Stimets family tree was diseased and removed.  A new garden was planted on the Green with an Alaska Cedar, knockout roses, Bobo hydreangeas and annuals.  It's a focal point for events held on the Green. 

2018 The front entrance beds were refreshed.  The grasses were removed and dry cherry trees planted.  The alaskan daisies remain, other new plants including catmint, spirea, and rose bushes were added. 


Today Our dedicated volunteers toil each week to make the Park bloom with sunny spring afternoons, cool grass underfoot and lasting memories for everyone. Trees’ shadows extend overhead. Flowers multiply. Fish splash in the pond. The train bell rings. Visitors wander the park during lazy days in the heat of summer. Pets and kids scurry up the trails. Bees gather nectar. Ahhhh
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Liam's TrainLiam's Train

In 2005, Liam’s Train and Liam’s View were dedicated to two year old,  Liam O’Neil,  whose laughter is long remembered. The site contains a replica of a wooden train and bell, benches, and a view of the Garden of Verses, and the Woodland Walkway. 

Children who visit the park eagerly run to ring the bell, sit in the train’s engine, hug the wooden teddy bear, and just enjoy the quiet of the woodland trails. 

When we hear the train bell ring, we know a child is smiling.
The O’Neil’s commissioned the train and it was designed and constructed by Reed Hayden of Maine. The deck was a labor of love by Liam’s grand dad, Phil Perry, and the benevolence of E. J. Jaxtimer, Rogers & Marney, and Botello’s.
It remains the heart and soul of the Armstrong-Kelley Park.