A Flagstone Path
I'd never before done anything like this, but I had an image in my mind, & when it was done, I'd achieved exactly what I'd intended.
It's a thrill to work your buns off & have it actually be what was imagined! I dug off the sod, spread out some sand, laid down the flat rocks, filled in the cracks with good soil & planted groundcovers, & voila a flagstone path.
Granny Artemis took the first photo standing nearly under the arbor. For the second shot below, she backed out to catch the arbor itself, with akebia vines still having quite a few leaves, though some have already dropped off at the start of Fall; it'll retain about a third of its leaves to winter's ends by which times new leaves will be growing, so it's semi-evergreen in our yard, & fully evergreen in warmer zones.
Eventually we'll have somewhat similar paths surrounding the house, providing for a continous stroll. But this was the first one finished. I learned a few things & think the next length of path will be better, but mainly, it seems like something pretty hard to screw up. Flat rocks with foot-resistant groundcovers just can't fail.
The primary groundcovers along the walk are as follows. At the near end, Leptinella squalida, or "Brass Buttons." These look like eency weency ferns. They like full sun to partial shade so we put them at the head of the path before it got too shady, just a few of them here & there. They spread like wildfire by runners filling in all the spaces between the flagstones in no time. It rather dies down in the winter but leaps back into excellent form come spring. At the far end is Sagina subulata or Irish Moss, not a real moss of course, but sure looks like it is. It too needs sunlight so we put it where the shade-path ends, but it has spread even up into the shadier places on its own. In the middle section where shade is deepest we planted Soleirolia or Baby's Tears which in shade has not spread quite as rapidly as the Brass Buttons & Irish Moss, but is certainly lush in its own right & more slowly filling in the cracks.
There are several other groundcovers off the side but I'll mention only clubmoss. There are many kinds of shade-plants & ferns in this corridor but they don't show in these shots. At the far end silhouetted against the light is a contorted filbert.
This corridor was an almost plantless area when we started, & it went through rapid & radical changes as we added plants. The first two photos were taken when the area was less than half planted, & the row of plants visible on the left in the first photo are from a package of wildflower seeds, used as a stop-gap measure to add life & color the first year the flagstones were laid.
Within a year of the first two photos the wildflowers were all removed & we installed numerous woody shrubs, such as Oakleaf Hydrangea & Climbing Hydrangea; a dwarf alpine fir; espaliered Camellia sasanqua & Camellia hiemalis; Rhododendrons PJM Elite & "Poukhanense" Korean Azalea, just on the left side alone.
Shrubs against the house (on the right) have grown incredibly. For a single example, a previously small Pacific Red Elder is not visible in the first photo because it self-planted as a volunteer immediately behind the fence beside the arbor; it is today fully visible well above the six-foot fence, having grown higher than the house's second floor windows!
Underneath the woody shrubs are sundry types of ferns, hellebores, numerous cyclamens, bloodroot, columbines, trilliums, dogtooth lilies, wintergreen, black mondo grass, & much else creating a woodland flavor. So although this narrow walkway looked great back when it was just a long strip of mixed wildflowers, it over time became a densely wooded shady corridor. Some of the changes are visible in the third photo taken while standing on the path, Spring 2002.
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