Why Pathways Are Such A Compelling Element In The Garden

– Posted in: Garden Design

This is a re-print of a post that was published here in March 2013. As fall approaches, it’s a perfect time to re-evaluate any changes you want to make in your garden. 

When I began to learn about garden design, I became intrigued with paths – no – make that obsessed. Maybe it dates back to my childhood memories of The Wizard of Oz. Who doesn’t remember when Dorothy reaches a crossroads on her journey to the Wizard and is confused about which way to go ~ and how the talking tree chimes in with his opinion?

Pathways in Fran Sorin Garden

Fran Sorin Southwind’s Drive garden top level in spring

Fran Sorin garden- front pathway

Fran Sorin’s Southwinds Drive Garden- Front Pathway

The dictionary describes a path as:

~ a way beaten, formed, or trodden by the feet of persons or animals.

~ a narrow walk or way: a path through a garden; a bicycle path.

~ a route, course, or track along which something moves: the path of a hurricane.4.

~ a course of action, conduct, or procedure: the path of righteousness.

Paths are a lot more than that. They can create a sense of mystery. Or a feeling of excitement, anticipation and fear ~ even a journey into the unknown. And when it comes to garden making, without well laid out paths, our gardens are chaotic.

 Sorin cutting garden

Fran Sorin’s Southwinds Drive Cutting Garden

When I designed my cutting garden,  I used mulch for the pathway. I wanted an easy to maintain, non-formal walkway that would allow flowers to flop in a natural, overgrown style.

Chanticleer hillside garden

Chanticleer Hillside Garden – hidden stone path

The stepping stone pathway at Chanticleer’s hillside garden is practically invisible until you set foot on it.

Jacqueline van der Kloet garden

Jacqueline van der Kloet’s personal garden in Holland

Jacqueline van der Kloet’s pathway is gentle with a female quality – as is her garden – which is a visual feast.
Aspen Colorado

Aspen Colorado

The trampled grass is an unspoken pathway that leads hikers towards the mountain.

Chanticleer -path to Tea Cup garden

Chanticleer -walkway to Tea Cup Garden

Although this stone entry ‘walkway’ to the Tea Cup garden doesn’t qualify as a pathway – it is too wide – I couldn’t resist inserting it in. Why? Because – when walking through it, the visitor has no sense of what’s beyond. The wall – upon which the bicycle is leaning – keeps the visitor in a ‘not knowing’ state until she walks through an entryway and then – POW – in a split second,  the Tea Cup garden ignites all of your senses.

Chanticleer cutting garden

Chanticleer Cutting Garden

The straight grass pathway is perfect for maintaining a sense of geometry and allowing a sweeping overview of the cutting garden in all of its glory.

If you’re interested in reading other articles I’ve written about paths on KapliPRO, click on the links below.

My Pathways

Pathways In My Backyard

Pathways In The Garden ~ At Chanticleer

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NOW IT’S YOUR TURN. Tell us about paths you’ve created in your garden or a favorite path you’ve been on.

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Fran Sorin

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at www.fransorin.com.

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Fran Sorin
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