Setting the Pace of the Stroll with Stepping Stone Paths and Walkways…

June 8th, 2010 § 3 comments § permalink

Stepping stone path designed and installed by artist Dan Snow, in a garden of my own design at Ferncliff. Photo © Michaela at TGE

We’ve all heard that the beauty and meaning of life is usually found in the journey, not in the destination. I’m a great believer in this way of looking at things, and I find that the philosophy generally holds true in the landscape as well. Paths and walkways are almost always central features in the gardens I design, and right now I am working on three projects that include stepping stone paths. The way in which a path is designed is key to how a garden will be experienced. Is the purpose of the walkway utilitarian; moving traffic quickly and easily from one point to another? Or will the path be designed to slow visitors down; inviting travelers to linger, pause or sit down and rest for awhile? Are there structural elements to highlight or conceal, views to frame, secrets to reveal? There are many things to consider when designing and installing a walkway or path…

Photo © Clive Nichols, Garden Designer: Anne Dexter

Daria Price Bowman’s Paths and Walkways, (in which the the Clive Nichols photographs above and directly below appear), is a lovely source of inspiration to seek out when searching for stylish garden design ideas. Formal and informal walkways are featured, including paths constructed from every imaginable material, including natural stone, brick, bark and gravel…

This pathways sets a pace to match the stream, with a wide span designed to accommodate two people walking side by side. Photo © Clive Nichols

Barbara Pleasant’s Garden Stone, is another excellent design resource for planning a new pathway. With an entire chapter devoted to the subject of stone walkways, there are both practical instructions and tips as well as countless inspirational photographs to stir a gardener’s imagination. Widely spaced stepping stones laid along a curving line tend to slow the pace, requiring attentiveness on the part of those walking along the path. If stones are placed tightly together along a wide, sweeping path, visitors will tend to move through a space more quickly…

Image © Dency Kane from Barbara Pleasant’s Garden Stone

A few weeks back, I mentioned an ongoing project, The Museum Garden, a space I designed for The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Brattleboro, Vermont. This public garden connects BMAC to Marlboro College‘s downtown Brattleboro campus building. Once completed, the sculpture park will be filled with three dimensional art, benches, tables and relaxed, native plantings. In order to slow traffic down as travelers pass through the park, I designed a wide-spaced, stepping-stone pathway, set within a sweeping lawn. Landscape contractors Turner and Renaud constructed the walkway from large slabs of smooth “Ashfield stone” from a regional quarry, and then filled the spaces surrounding the pavers with loam, to prepare for a seeded lawn. As you look at these pictures, think about the spaces in your own garden. Do the paths and walkways in your landscape slow you down or speed you up? I will be writing more about the museum garden pathway, and similar, connecting gardens in the coming weeks. Life begins in the garden, and it’s all about the journey, isn’t it? …

“Ashfield” flat stone placed on a base of fine, crushed stone. Installation: Turner and Renaud, Design/photo: Michaela at TGE

The Turner and Renaud Landscaping Team Carefully Backfills the Walkway with Loam

The Walkway Prepared for Seeding

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Article and photographs (with noted exceptions) © 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

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Honoring National Public Gardens Day – And Breaking Ground on My First Public Garden Design Project…

May 7th, 2010 § 4 comments § permalink

New Beginnings at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center and Marlboro College in Vermont…

LaRock Excavating at Work…

Today is National Public Gardens Day, the second annual celebration of a day set aside to honor the importance of community gardens throughout the United States. Over the past year, I have occasionally written about public gardens in New England, and my goal to visit more of them. However, there has been a research-oriented reason for these visits which, until now, I have neglected to tell you about. National Public Gardens day seemed like the right moment to let you in on a very exciting project I have been involved with over the past year. This week marks a small, but special moment in my local community, and a satisfying professional milestone in my career. On Wednesday, LaRock Excavating broke ground on my design for the new Brattleboro Museum and Art Center Garden, a small public sculpture park and landscape honoring Linda Rubinstein’s service to this landmark of creativity and culture in the heart of downtown Brattleboro, Vermont. I was recruited by Judy Freed, chair of the BMAC garden committee, for this volunteer project approximately one year ago. My role on the garden committee has involved landscape consulting, the drafting of several garden design plans, and working with contractors to secure bids and scheduling. Now, at long last, we are finally breaking ground!

Although I have created many private, residential gardens, this is my first public garden design. This is also the first time I have worked with a museum board    -and committee- on a landscaping project. The garden will be important to many people, but because it occupies a prominent location between the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center and the Brattleboro campus of Marlboro College, it has a special communal and aesthetic significance.  The garden design has also been something of a logistical challenge, as it is situated at the corner of a busy downtown traffic intersection, (a hub serving as commuter rail station, Connecticut River bridge and VT/NH, MA state-line), serving an interstate community with various cultural, educational and commerce-driven activities….

A look at the base of one seating/planting area…

Public gardens are important for many reasons of course, but two of the most significant are the valuable green space provided to the community at large and of course the environment. I will be writing more about this challenging and rewarding project over the coming weeks; covering various design aspects of the multi-use space including the display of three dimensional artwork, support of local ecosystem with native plantings, creation of inviting social areas with wireless network access, communal seating and more…

A clean, fresh canvas for the new BMAC garden serving my local community…

Some of the most beautiful public gardens in the United States, large and small, were designed and constructed by volunteers, using funds raised through grants, gifts and private donations. My favorite large-scale public gardens in the U.S. include the Arnold Arboretum in Massachusetts; Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York; Mt. Cuba Center, DelawareThe Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Arizona; and Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania. What are some of your favorite national public gardens? And, what is your favorite local, community garden. How often do you visit these special places and how do you support them?

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All Photographs this post © 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All Rights Reserved.

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Great! Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

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