out for a Stroll

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Fifteen years ago, landscape designer Jay Stump, president of Spring Valley Landscape Co., was hired to plant five trees in front of Joan and Howard Friedel’s 1918 Guilford home. Instead, with input from Joan, he ended up creating the entire garden, including several sweeping pathways.

Although the home, designed by venerable Baltimore architects Edward L. Palmer Jr. and William D. Lamdin, sits on less than an acre, the curvaceous gardens and pathways give the property the feel of a much larger estate. “Basically the paths were a method of transition through the garden,” says Stump, who created three main interconnecting paths of varying lengths, totaling about 200 feet. “Steppingstone paths make you look down at your feet, walk slowly, then look up at the garden. The paths make these gardens seem larger than they
really are.”

One path begins at a massive beech tree by the front drive and meanders to the back gardens alongside an English-style cottage garden. There, in the middle of a series of cottage beds, another path slips through a wall of hollies to more garden rooms and a historic surprise: the last of the eight original private greens in Guilford. The 1½-acre common green extends the garden south of the property, connecting it to a neighbor’s yard. Such greens were a signature feature of Frederick Law Olmsted and his sons, who were originally involved in the design and planning of Guilford, Roland Park and other Baltimore neighborhoods.

Pathways also were important elements in Olmsted’s designs, and within the Friedels’ garden they are an organizing feature that link garden rooms and offer a way to stroll leisurely by the plantings. As a bonus, says Joan Friedel, “They make weeding easier, too.” 

Another connecting path behind the house leads through two rose-covered arbors and a series of mixed perennial and annual beds to a wide stone terrace filled with Howard Friedel’s orchid collection. Stump created this additional outdoor living and entertaining space off the dining room and den by building a large bluestone terrace with a stone dining room table. A wisteria-covered pergola, vine-entwined columns, a koi pond and water and more large hibiscus and annual-filled containers soften the elegant space, where the Friedels lunch or dine and entertain. “I love to just sit near the upper pond and listen to the waterfall, enjoy the view of the garden and watch the robins playing in the stream,” says Joan.

Behind the terrace, a low stone wall serves as a perfect backdrop for annuals that provide color throughout spring, summer and fall. “The bedding plants change every year,” says Joan. “Jay does not like to repeat himself.” So every year, the color scheme of the thousands of annuals changes—one year it’s maroon and chartreuse, another it’s purple and red or deep blue and pinks. This allows the garden to take on a striking new look each year.

The changing annuals also reinvigorate the paths that the couple, who have lived there 40 years, enjoy side by side on an after-dinner stroll or a solitary ramble. Walking through their garden, Joan says, “We feel that the man upstairs has the most unbelievable palette and that we have our own private world to which we can retreat right in the middle of the city.” 

On the Right Path

Jay Stump of Spring Valley Landscape Co. offers five key tips for creating garden pathways.

• Know the function of the path. A walk to the front door of a home should be a minimum of 5 feet wide, so people can walk up to the house side by side, whereas a walk through a garden can be 2 feet wide.

• A solid surface, such as stone or concrete, is easy to maintain and usable in wet weather.

• Steppingstones slow visitors’ walking pace, as they must look to see where the next step is. A solid path creates a faster pace.

• To break up the monotony of a long walk, add a wider rest area where a bench or a small wall can be placed.

• Use a long-lasting base. For a solid surface path, put down 4 to 6 inches of CR-6 crushed stone base material followed by a half-inch of stone dust for leveling, followed by the stones or pavers. Use stone dust instead of sand, because it’s angular in shape and will lock together. Sand is round in shape and will always move.

RESOURCES:

Design & Plantings: Jay Stump, Spring Valley Landscape Co., 410-902-8890
Pest Management: Carroll Tree Service, 410-998-1100, http://www.carrolltreeservice.com
Tree Removal: Ameritree, 410-893-8733, http://www.ameritreeexpertsmd.com
Irrigation: Automatic Underground Sprinkler System, 301-937-4696

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