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A Blessing and a Curse

June 21st, 2011

I’m both blessed and cursed to have rocky soil. When I say that I have rocky soil, I mean it. If digging a hole to plant, say a boxwood, I usually end up with more rocks than soil. This is a curse because it makes digging any kind of hole a quite a chore (I have the biceps to prove it). It’s a blessing because I have piles of rocks, in all shapes and sizes, around the property waiting to become rock walls and garden paths. There’s nothing quite like using native stone in the garden, it looks right at home. An added bonus is that it’s free, except for the work of digging them up and moving them.

Remember that new garden area with big sweeping curves on the southeast side of the property? That is the new asparagus bed with a box hedge along the front. Since my goal is to limit soil compaction and disturbance, I decided a nice stone garden path would be a great way to harvest all those lovely asparagus spears each spring. I’ve been working on laying a narrow stone walkway through the middle of the asparagus bed, it separates the ‘Purple Passion’ from the ‘Jersey Supreme’. Down at the end of the path will be the heirloom asparagus.

I also added a nice larger walkway into the new garden area by the pond. The plan is to build a bench out of some of the branches from all those trees we took down and set it under the dogwood behind the pond. It will have a backdrop of heirloom snowball viburnum that came from my grandma.

I wanted to have some plants growing among the rocks. Luckily, I have a few patches of ‘Major Red’ Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum coccineus) in the garden that need divided so that will be planted in the large main pathway. I purchased some Scotch Moss (Sagina subulata) for the narrow walkway through the asparagus.

The boxwoods are all planted now in front of the asparagus. I’ll add a few stepping stones behind them for pruning purposes and so I can use any extra space not taken up by asparagus for other annual vegetables like lettuce. Now I’ll be able to harvest asparagus and prune boxwoods without stepping on and compacting the soil.

What’s your preferred garden pathway material? native stone, cement, gravel, wood chips?

16 Comments to “A Blessing and a Curse”
  1. Kathi on June 21, 2011 at 7:01 am

    Stone! Your stone paths are beautiful. In my vegetable garden I have wide gravel paths that are nice too, but nothing beats the look of a stone path. Can’t wait for pictures of the boxwood and asparagus bed next year. Sounds like a nice combination.

    Reply to Kathi's comment

  2. Melissa on June 21, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Hey- That’s looking really good! Love the stone paths. All we have here in the south is red clay! Guess we could make pottery! What kind of heirloom asparagus are you planting?

    Reply to Melissa's comment

    • Susy on June 21, 2011 at 8:02 am

      ‘Mary Washington’ and ‘Precoce D’Argenteuil’ asparagus. The Precoce I might blanch white before harvest.

      Beaten earth paths of red clay are quite beautiful – like the ones at Monticello – very cottage garden!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Patricia on June 21, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Oh, wow! I’m inspired by that path of yours. I have wood chips separating my raised beds, but I think I will try putting in a path through the native flower bed on the other side of the yard. I really love your site! Thanks for posting daily.

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  4. Ivy Mae on June 21, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Feeling pretty jealous! I have a hard time digging holes too, but just because of roots. The only rock we have down here in North Central Florida is powdery limestone!

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  5. Gabe on June 21, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I do a little bit of everything, though we like natural materials so cement is avoided as much as possible. My favorite is probably a path made of big flagstones. We live close to the edge of a pretty big field that has been farmed for who knows how long, so there are lots of rocks at the edge of the field that I will someday get around to moving. I’m looking to make some low stone walls and borders for some of our beds – I don’t know how many flattish rocks are available that I can make a path with.

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  6. goatpod2 on June 21, 2011 at 9:29 am

    We have rocky soil here as well and we have huge rocks that we put in some of our goat pens. We have lots of cement sidewalks and part of our driveway is cement and some of it is gravel.


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  7. Barefeet In The Kitchen on June 21, 2011 at 9:31 am

    I am so happy to finally have a garden at last, a pathway hasn’t even crossed my mind yet. For now, I’ll tread on the dirt in between all the beds and be content. Maybe next year. Yours is simple beautiful though!

    Reply to Barefeet In The Kitchen's comment

  8. Annie on June 21, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I feel your pain and blessings!! My land is full of rocks and large stones; if you don’t hit a boatload of rocks digging a hole here something is wrong! lol! When they installed my septic tank they dug up a rock the size of a picnic table; but it makes a nice yard feature. I have many stone retaining walls, paths, etc. They are just too pretty not to use. If you look under ‘stonework’ on my blog you can see some of what I’ve done.
    Your stonework looks great btw!

    Reply to Annie's comment

  9. MAYBELLINE on June 21, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Wheels roll easier on a smooth surface.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  10. Mistresseve on June 21, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I love the organic look of stone. They make such simple and beautiful paths.

    Reply to Mistresseve's comment

  11. Grace on June 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I have what I believe are also Major Red’ Creeping Thyme and Scotch Moss growing over small rock path that I have. (also lots of dandelions, but I’m working on that!). They are pretty, but they do “creep” over and cover the rocks, so you have to put them back every year if you want some rock exposed.

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  12. Seren Dippity on June 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Paths are a serious pain around here. I put down weed barrier and covered it with mulch only to find that the mulch decomposes so fast that in less than one summer season it was covered in weeds and grass. Stone, brick, concrete all have to be edged constantly and it is still hard to keep the grass runners from going underneath them. Creeping Thyme and the moss covers won’t live here… it gets too dry. I keep trying things but haven’t yet found a great solution.
    I love the look of your stone paths; such beauty!

    Reply to Seren Dippity's comment

  13. Angela on June 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm


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  14. Diane on June 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    I live near a marble quarry and have a lot of discarded marble chunks around. Most of the houses here, old houses built in the 1920’s, have marble walkways and steps. We don’t have as many rocks, but there are some. When a neighbor cleared his yard for grass, I had him dump the 6 or 8 large rocks he found here. They’re so big I can’t move them, but I love having them there interrupting the grass.

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  15. KimH on June 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I dont have anywhere to path to.. but I’d love a stone path like yours if I did. I do have a couple iron stepping stonesI picked up at Marcs of all places several years ago. They’re really pretty and lead the the back of my little woodland garden.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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