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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Hillside Garden Pathway

While I haven't written about it in quite some time we have a large hillside that so far we've left pretty natural. Over the last two years I've gradually cut into the slope in an attempt to cut down on the worst of all weeds, ragweed. Right now the slope has large pathways cut into the top that have natural island beds filled with Queen Anne's Lace, blackberries, and sassafras as well as an vast assortment of other weeds and wildflowers. Eventually I hope to add some fruit trees to make a small orchard on the slope since it seems to be a great location for fruit trees to thrive. For now though I'm tinkering around with a few things like this little pathway.

It's located near out driveway and leads up the slope to the larger areas that I've already cleared. Clearing it out was a bit of a challenge. I hauled our push lawnmower up the cleared slope and gradually worked my way down to where the entry area of the pathway is. As a kid I used to run around at my friend's house whose fields were filled with pathways around natural areas. I've always wanted to have a maze of pathways in the backyard ever since. Sometimes impressions made in our childhood stick with us for a long time!

It's a little hard to see in the picture and still a little narrow for traveling but it's a start to what I hope will become a neat feature. Along the hillside is a small trench that is designed to carry water into the backyard and not into our driveway. I'm planning on building a small platform bridge similar to what I put together for my patio area. Then I'll piece together a staircase/pathway to make traveling up the hill a little easier. The pathway curves pretty quickly disguising the way ahead.  If you ask me what makes a good pathway I would say anticipation!  People walking down the pathway will either anticipate seeing something around a curve or will  see a planting or feature that will draw their eyes in to see more.

Along this stretch of pathway you can see two plants that I hope to leave in the area in some fashion while I incorporate other plants into the landscape: Blackberries and Queen Anne's Lace.  Last summer and fall as I was clearing away parts of the slope I made sure to avoid cutting down the blackberry stems. It was my hope that they would eventually produce some wild blackberries for cobbler or preserves. Blackberries and other brambles have biennial tops that die back after fruiting but have perennial root systems. By leaving the blackberry stems alone last year I may have given myself a nice crop of blackberries. That is if the birds don't get to my crop first!

I like the Queen Anne's Lace for two reasons. One it looks great and two it houses quite a few beneficial insects! 

I'm not in a rush to get this project done but over time I'll show you its progress. My number one goal right now with this pathway is to keep it open until fall when the cooler weather makes hard work just a little bit easier. The next step will be to build the little bridge.

6 comments :

  1. Wrong. Canada Thistle is the worst of all weeds.

    I'm enjoying your blog.

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  2. Looks like fun, Dave. I think your girls will love playing in this area when they are bigger. Nothing sparks imagination like child sized forests of mazes and hidey holes.

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  3. Quite a challenge Dave. Those blackberries look good!

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  4. Your project sounds like fun! And it will provide a lot of future entertainment for your family. We have 3.5 acres on the edge of a very small town. When we bought the place, there were three large trees and not much else. The previous owners mowed the entire yard! As we began adding flower beds, a few at a time, I began mowing around oak trees that sprang up in the grass out back. One day I counted and I had mowed around 104 little trees! I began mowing paths then. Now, 15 years later, we have a lovely one acre woods back there, with paths mowed through it. Most of the paths no longer need mowing as the shade keeps the grass from growing. We have a lot of company and kids always love running and exploring the maze of paths in the woods. So much fun!! Not to mention all the wildlife the woods brings to our yard! ~~Rhonda :)

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  5. Looks like a fun place to explore. My sister has been fighting the creep of sumachs in her attempt to create secret paths at her country place. You really do have to keep mowing.

    Just to add to the un-beauty contest for the worst of all possible weeds: dog-strangling vine and/or garlic mustard. They're both duking it out for ultimate control of green spaces in Toronto.

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  6. Looks like a fun place for a kid to explore. We had woods across the street from the house I grew up in and it was so fun walking the trails & picking berries. ;)

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Dave

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