Admittedly, stone paths that wind through the garden are shabby, due somewhat to poor construction, but in other parts shallow roots have displaced stones that now wobble if stepped on without proper attention. The faulty construction is no fault but my own, as paths were laid only to avoid dragging soil into the house, of course per my wife’s insistence since such matters rarely occur to me. At the time, the sure footing of visitors was not a consideration, so now I must warn to keep an eye to the paving while the other views the garden.
Primary walkways to the front and rear doors are wider and more stable, though I find that with any dampness the slightly sloped bluestone walk to the rear door can be treacherous. It is best avoided, though the walk around is a considerable distance, looping down steps and around the small two level pond that is set off this rear entrance.
Pathways connect several small patios which are constructed of varied colors of flagging stone, though these are not so colorful with long accumulation of silt and debris from the garden. To be most presentable would require power washing, but this would uproot lichens and mosses, and this is out of the question, even beyond the consideration that the patios are perfectly functional, if slightly soiled.
There are five ponds in the garden, with a sixth, seasonally filled pond that is dirt bottomed and constructed in a partially successful attempt to dry the small section of lawn at the lower end of the property. A series of paths wind around three small ponds and a long, narrow stream just behind the rear of the house. Though each is obscured from the others by dense planting, the configuration is such that one pond could lead to the next, then to the next, though each is independently constructed. A mostly circular patio, centered between the ponds, with the upper slope retained by rounded boulders, is my favorite spot in the garden.
At the approximate midpoint of the rear garden is the koi pond, which stretches the length of what was once an extended area of lawn. With a patio, summer house structure, and surrounding plantings, this area obscures the view to the lower third of the garden, and by appearance this would seem to be the terminal point of the garden. I’ve been told that the hidden views make the property seem larger than its acre and a quarter, but this was not accomplished by design.
Unfortunately, an imbalance in the number of koi in the pond has resulted in cloudy water in recent years, and eventually some action will be taken to correct this. The rocky edges of the pond, once artfully planted with varieties of Japanese irises, have now become wild, overtaken by yellow flags and native Joe Pye weeds, and regardless of knowing the supreme effort involved to clear these out, I am convinced that I prefer this look. Some of the more colorful Japanese irises remain, so that there is now color through much of spring and summer, and abundant numbers of dragonflies and butterflies.
I think, perhaps, that overflowing foliage has diminished the population of Northern Brown water snakes as positions to bask on sun warmed stones have disappeared. In any case, for better or worse, the task to tame the surroundings of the koi pond is considerably more labor than I care to undertake.
Though the garden remains a work in progress after thirty years, no additional ponds will be dug, and almost certainly no new paths. It is questionable if existing paths will be repaired.