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GARDEN SURROUNDINGS: Incorporating Paths In Your Garden

By Francesca Filanc, for Let’s Talk Plants! May 2024.

Incorporating Paths in Your Garden

Have you ever noticed the way it makes you feel when you are walking on a garden path? We have all watched a child walk on a path through a garden. The child’s whole countenance is filled with wonder and excitement. This is the way adults can feel too, remembering a happy experience in childhood or just being in nature and noticing a bird dipping her beak into a birdbath for a drink.

WiX stock photo of a bird dipping her beak into a birdbath for a drink.

Yesterday I was visiting with a friend after a garden club meeting down in the garden. We both noticed all the varied varieties of birds. They were flying from trees to bird baths, fountains, back-and-forth building nests and singing.

When I first moved to this property 8½ years ago, I had a blank slate to work with. The lawn covered everything to the street and around the property. I knew that I wanted to create a sanctuary for people and birds. I planned from the beginning that there would be many paths with elements of surprise and serenity for children and adults with plenty of areas for birds to find sanctuary and create nests in tall hedges and trees.

As a garden matures, the birds, butterflies and dragonflies are more at home. This garden is young, but I have already noticed the birds feeling more at home.

“If you build it, they will come.”

The quote from the movie “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner about baseball comes to mind. It is actually a metaphor for life if you think about it. What we sow we reap.

This spring, the gardeners replanted a path through the fairy garden. When I first moved here, my grandchildren were all quite young and we had fun creating a special fairy garden in my yard. The path that goes through that area needs new plants now and then. It’s a shaded area for the most part with steppingstones meandering through from one garden room to another.

A young friend, eight years old, journeyed with me one day to Green Thumb Nursery in San Marcos to buy Baby Tears, Soleirolia soleirolii. The path actually became more exciting and beautiful because the nursery didn’t have enough of that ground cover. In fact, I have found that baby tears do not grow forever and, although they provide a fun effect, they either get a disease or die off in this spot. They’re not so easy to grow.

So, we augmented with Scotch Moss, Arenaria verna, which is a striking bright green, two different varieties of thyme and Silver Carpet, Dymondia margaretae. The other plants that we chose need partial to full sun which is perfect because as the seasons go into summer, there is sun in that area beyond the baby tears.

Because this little friend is still young and she has a younger brother, I bought new items for the fairy garden. Next time we have a play date, she will have fun placing them, and even though my grandchildren are older now, they might enjoy placing the items in the fairy garden too. It is a creative project.

In my family, there are many birthdays in May along with Mother’s Day. Think about creating a new garden path in your garden. Your children and grandchildren might enjoy helping you create it.

The joy you will all experience sitting in the garden, watching children and grandchildren, friends, and neighbors walk on your paths or just being alone communing with nature, watching the birds fly back-and-forth over a walkway and into a shrub or tree singing as they go, stopping at a birdbath to drink some water or take a bath.

A little bit of heaven in the spring garden.

New mixed media artwork inspired by nature by Francesca Filanc titled "Love You Still".


Happy Gardening!



Artist, author, photographer, fly-fisher woman, Francesca Filanc grew up in old Del Mar and these days lives, paints and gardens in historic Olivenhain with her two dogs.

Find her art and writings here:

She can be found on social media here:

Have gardening questions or want to learn more about Francie’s art? Contact:


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