Pathway Plantings

Pathway plantings – An attractive array of plants softens the outlines of harsh edges and always adds a welcome splash of color.

Plants for formal paths. Even with a formal garden and pathway, it is more attractive to plant the edges with clumps of low plants so that the edges ‘disappear’ into the garden. Suitable plants for this are Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens, with purple-black grass-like leaves, and lilyturf, which has a blue or a white flower. The blue-flowering lilyturf has variegated leaves; the white-flowering one has dark green leaves.

Other low hedging plants include Japanese box, with its lightish green leaves, and common box, which has dark green leaves. Both are slow growing and are usually clipped into shape. Boxleaf honeysuckle is another choice that looks wonderful when clipped low along a formal path. Or try Teucrium, which needs constant clipping and has a little blue flower.

Plants for informal paths. For edgings in informal gardens, shrubs should spill over paths, softening their edges. Different varieties of lavender and daisies, clumps of salvia, day lilies, iris, stokes’ aster, rosemary, lamb’s ears and santolina all look wonderful together.

Erigeron, snow-in-summer, Convolvulus, Campanula, Saxifraga, foxgloves and violets should also be considered. Lavender, rosemary, daisies, day lilies and iris all need sun, but violets, Campanula, Saxifraga, foxgloves and most lilies don’t need a lot of sun and are happy in partial shade. Plants behind the shrubs edging a pathway could include Chinese lantern, Plumbago, Buddleja, Philadelphus, gardenia and camellia.


Informal pathways call for pockets of flowers poking their heads up between paving slabs. Heartsease, miniature baby’s breath, violets, forget-me-nots and alyssum are particularly suitable. Wherever possible, simply sprinkle seeds between the slabs.

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