I’m calling this upcoming trip my El Camino hike, but it actually involves more than me and more than the Camino. My younger daughter Allison will be sharing the first 10 or so days with me, and we’ll be visiting non-Camino places of importance to her and to me. On Saturday September 13th, we’ll fly […]
After a long break to oppose a massive, auto-centric development proposed here in Portland, I return to my preferred topic of walking to announce (Tada!) : Next month I’ll start walking the Camino de Santiago, the ancient pilgrimage route from the French side of the Pyrenees to the cathedral city of Santiago in northwestern Spain. […]
In 2006, Portland, Maine, created an interpretive trail through its Old Port district linking places associated with the Underground Railroad. Portland used a website, a pamphlet and on-site markers to make the city’s prominent role in slaves’ route to freedom visible. This seacoast city’s effort was typical of a trend in recent decades of forming […]
“There is a resemblance … between every path and every story. Part of what makes roads, trails, and paths so unique as built structures is that they cannot be perceived as a whole all at once by a sedentary onlooker. They unfold in time as one travels along them, just as a story does as […]
How to best display an extensive collection of large plants arose as a challenge in the 1870s when Charles S. Sargent was named director of Harvard University’s new Arnold Arboretum. Sargent’s mandate was to grow “all the trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, either indigenous or exotic which can be raised in the open air” at […]
We’d like to know how to stimulate interest in new specimens along a display path, where to put them for greatest impact. Here’s a suggestion.
To one extent or another, every path is a display path. Regardless of its primary use, every path goes beyond offering strolls or destinations to providing continuous exhibits of natural or cultural features along its route. Beverley Nichols makes a similar point in his memoir Green Grows the City, arguing that every garden path is […]
Paths, which were once simply means for enjoying fresh air, outdoor socializing and reaching destinations, have been more recently since work and travel have become less physically demanding called upon increasingly to provide opportunities for physical exertion. Walking at any speed provides fundamental, wide ranging beneficial exercise. As the American physician Alvah H. Doty recommended […]
The Rousham landscape as completed in 1741 and still today offers the ingredients solo and social strollers seek in a naturalistic setting: easy access, broad, clear walkways, a sense of safety, a world apart, apparent extent, and opportunities for exploration. The primary walk is readily accessible. It starts and ends at the house, which is […]
Mystery, properly displayed, is a prime human motivator, especially when we are on a leisurely stroll.
If meadows, forests, and hills form attractive compositions for strolling, why introduce manmade objects and risk disrupting the natural harmony? The Rousham estate in Oxfordshire can again provide memorable answers. Dotted along its main path through woods and along the river are statues, seats, and little structures. These artificial insertions don’t disrupt the natural scenery. […]
To provide the harmonious settings strollers seek requires broad, yet site-specific cultural understanding, attention to details, and—dare we say it in these oh-so-post-Miss-Manners days—good taste. A rose garden may offer a broad, flat strolling path yet remain empty because thorny branches flop across the path. Strollers shun not only abandoned buildings and litter-strewn lots, but […]
Some of the most delightful strolling paths are designed for an hour of the day or a season of the year.
The Japanese Tea Garden’s roji, or stroll path, is designed to lead from the frenetic outer world to the peaceful inner one.
Ideally we stroll away from our day-to-day habitat into an area we think of as a wide-ranging world apart. Large parks or extensive natural areas clearly fill this bill, but so do small gardens and urban paths if they’re designed with extent and separateness in mind. A distinct boundary or a designed difference between a […]