Twelve years ago, when we bought our house to turn it into a bed and breakfast, the yard was a mess … almost entirely weeds and dirt. We had originally opened the B&B in a house across the street from Manhattan City Park four years earlier. So when we moved, I wanted our new yard to feel like a miniature park. I got out my graph paper, measured the yard, and came up with a landscape design. Central to the design was a fountain surrounded by a stone walkway. My husband Bill and our friend Jason went to a local quarry and brought back three pick-up truck loads of limestone to build the path. Once it was done, we planted several flats of creeping thyme between the stones. I was so excited. I thought that the walkway looked like it could have been in a magazine.
As Robert Burns wrote, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. The creeping thyme could not hold back weeds. Dandelions, crabgrass, and a whole host of undesirables grew right up through the thyme. In weeding, we always wound up pulling up the ground cover, separating the weeds, then replanting what of the thyme we could – and then planting new thyme the next season. I finally got tired of that cycle and gave up on the interplantings all together. That left us with a stone pathway with just dirt between the rocks. Moreover, the rocks hadn’t weathered well, and many were broken and uneven. The walkway looked antique, as though it could have been constructed when the house was built in 1902; but it was not as attractive as I wished it were and I was always stubbing my toes on it.
It took a couple of years for me to work up the courage to make the call – the stone walkway had to go! This past week, my helper Benjamin dug up the limestone, used it to fortify the border around our central flower bed and to build stone walls on the sides of the property. He then laid down cedar bark mulch which, at least for now, is lovely and so soft to walk on. It gives me happy feet!