We are building a few pathways through our backyard at the moment, and in their very early stages they look so... "raw" is probably the best word. Even though we had always planned to put proper paths through eventually, it is almost painful to tear up some of our lawn and garden bed areas to do so.
As we haven't tried to design a formal garden, the stark open pathways that we are initially going to have don't really suit the space at all. We are putting in mostly gently curving paths of decomposed granite (rather than straight precise lines in a harder material, like tile), but at the moment each side will be met by lawn or metal edging. And they feel so wide and obvious. My hope is that those edges will be smudged into the garden with plants and overhanging trees one day... That when you wander out the back door... down past the cutting garden... through the overgrown wild-flower filled orchard... under the shade of the birch grove... out the back gate to get to our little guest house..., it will feel like this sentence - slow, meandering, gentle. I would love for the paths to be almost irrelevant, just there to guide you on your way, not to yell at you to take the fastest route and HOP TO, GO GO GO!
So, instead of moping about how my back garden is in a bit of a sorry state right now (and will be for a little while longer), I thought I'd scour the interwebbies to find inspiration for how we might plant around the paths to help them blend into the garden a bit better.
First up, even though we won't have steps or concreted pebblestone like this one via Gardenista, I do love how the plants butt right up to the edges of the path, softening them. And I adore the way your eye is drawn up the path. The garden plantings take the formality and precision off the path.
I love how this path, also via Gardenista, is almost overrun by shrubs and flowers, but that there is still room to walk along it without getting soggy from morning dew. The way the path meanders and the height of the gardens means that you can't see where you are headed... it could take you anywhere but you kind of know you want to end up there!
I am sure that it is the dappled afternoon light in this one via Joy of Nesting that makes me melt, but the way the clumps of flowering perennials gently edge over the path is perfect. Doesn't it make you want to just potter along so so slowwwwwwwwwwwly? Like you might just stop and pick some flowers and run your hand through the leaves and never actually make it to wherever you were headed?
Some of our new paths will run straight into lawn - I have been a bit worried about whether this will feel too abrupt, but this one via Patina Farm has made me feel like it will work nicely and feel quite natural.
And finally, because oh my goodness a pathway of lilac, yes please! This path has no real edges at all because of the grasses and wildflowers that run along it. This is just gorgeous.
Anyway, it will be a long time before our pathways look anything like any of these amazing images, but it gives me hope!