Whether it’s a walkway welcoming guests to the front door or a pathway to the azaleas in bloom, paths in the garden can be both function and inviting. Landscape plans incorporate plans for garden paths before a plant goes in the ground but in our gardens they simply evolved around natural settings.
I do love paths in a garden. Who can resist an invitation to venture into the unknown? It can lead to a discovery of a pond or a secret garden or to the glorious hellibores in bloom beneath the Chinese Chestnut tree on a cool day in late winter. Because we live in a rural area, we chose a less formal fieldstone to provide a path around the side and back of our home with plantings of miniature sedums and an assortment of thymes intermixed between the stones. This pathway curves around foundation shrubs, herbs, and ornamental gardens built up at the corners of the home. At journey’s end of this walkway, we are rewarded with the frog pond and gardens, a haven for birds, fish, frogs, skinks, and butterflies. There we are invited to linger in provided seating.
Other pathways in our garden are of brick or a bit of slate as stepping stones leading to faucet and hose, but the majority of our paths are simply grass, my very favorite material. It is beautiful and it’s soft and forgiving to my bare feet. Trees in our gardens dictated where paths should be. One grassy alleé walkway is bordered on each side by hedges of poet’s laurel and it leads me straight to the garden house. Another curved grassy path leads me down a euonymus lined walkway, through the garden gate and into the neighbors’ domain. Narrow grass paths in the gardens all widen into open areas of lawn and the eye can scan the horizon for the next destination, whether it’s a pathway to the bench under the beech or the small mulched footpath to the new secret garden or across open lawn to the river.
I like to think of a garden landscape as a novel with each garden revealing itself as a chapter in the plot. Whether its a mystery or a ‘who done it’ or a love story, pathways in the garden help the story unfold by linking the chapters and keeping the story exciting. Paths can be functional and aesthetic and enticing, an welcome invitation for new discoveries. Is there a path in your garden?
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester