3 pathway pointers to try at home

wood garden path-2

At the Brenton Arboretum, outside Dallas Center, Iowa, there is a small path that leads around their visitor's center.  It caught my eye and I'm so excited to talk about it - I love thinking through how we move through garden spaces. This walkway is awesome on so many levels.  While it's at a public facility, it could just as easily grace a homeowner's yard. Let's talk about just the path itself, and leave the plants, the view, and the location for another day.  Here are 3 things to think about when creating a path, and how this example just nails it:

Scale, Shape, and Surface

Scale: The path is a minor option off of the wide main sidewalk to the Visitor Center's entrance.  It is a secondary choice - and as such, it's much narrower than the main walkway.  The major thoroughfare in any landscape should be wide and easy to navigate, but secondary paths get to be interesting, and this one surely is.  It's not quite wide enough for two people, so you can't go too fast.  It's meant for someone who wants to take time to wander.  It is tucked up close to the building, but doesn't feel dwarfed because of all the plant material.

Shape: It has this delightful curve.  You're taking your time here - no runway needed.  Curves slow us down and add mystery.  You can't see the final destination for this path - the curve obscures it.  And that's GREAT for a secondary path. It's not what you want for the main path to your home (or a Visitor's Center) - but it's exactly right for a quiet stroll.

wood garden path-2

Surface: Oh, this one is fun!  We're at an arboretum - a living tree collection - so of course we'll use tree slices, or tree cookies, as the steppers.  Set in concrete, these are not perfectly level and they'll break down and change over time, but it's a great material for this site.  Not only is it a nod to the location, but it adds a graphic, artistic quality that plain gravel can't provide.

wood round closeup

For clients, I like to think about the job of each walkway, and make sure that the scale, shape and surface we use line up with the role that path plays.  This little path is beckoning a visitor to come explore more - and I'm first in line.

New Hampshire Photo Shoot Preview

Photography at work
Coneflower blooms in NH

A few weeks ago I got to travel back to New Hampshire to work with John Benford Photography on three residential properties that we've designed.  I had this very limited window to score great photos of some of my work in New Hampshire, and John juggled rain clouds, slopes and shadows while wrangling ladders and lenses to get the best shots. It was a crazy thing to organize from another time zone - between scheduling the availability of the clients' properties, getting clean-up accomplished, and waiting on weather to cooperate during the two days I was there, my type-A skills were stretched.  I had help from John's Landscaping of Madbury, whose team worked hard to clean up the properties and get them ready for their big day.  My sweet friend Danielle helped my preview the properties the day prior to the two-day shoot, and she helped me cram a bunch of thank-you plants into the tiny rental car.  The late summer blooms were in full effect in New Hampshire. It was really fun and satisfying to see how the properties I've worked on are beginning to grow into their own. 

One of the properties

Above is a quick snap of one of the properties we shot over the two days.

It was a great experience for me and I learned a lot about what you need at an outdoor photo shoot!  I have a whole list now, from a whisk broom to a spray bottle of water.  So excited for these pictures to come out.