The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Desire and the new Love Path at Putnam Park

A minor secondary path was installed at the entrance garden at Putnam Park this week by one of our volunteers, Laura, and her sister. The original garden had a a dense hedge of fothergilla which was lovely in flower and during the autumn foliage display but was imposing and unwelcoming. We removed most of the shrubs and extended the size of the garden during the installation of the new pervious pathway.

It became clear during the design phase that visitors, who wanted to get to the other side of the garden, might ignore the main path and cut through the garden. This concept is called the desire path: essentially a path that wasn't supposed to be a path, usually a shorter route from an origin to a destination that wasn't intended to be there. College campuses are an excellent place to see desire paths beaten down in lawns and through gardens. After 15 years working in public spaces, I have gotten skilled at predicting what the masses will do before they do it. Sometimes I am surprised by a temporary art installation, but the concept of taking the most direct path, even if it is through a garden, has held true.

Laura's maiden name was Love. As I was researching shortcut paths and discovering the term desire path, I found it fitting that the Love sisters created a desire path. For me, this minor shortcut path will always be the Love Path.


  1. My father used to show me the same thing on the military bases he was stationed at - wherever the GIs wore a path, that's when he would authorize money to be spent and where the new sidewalk went! Not until. I think they called it something other than "desire path", though!

    1. I am sure they did! I always have a hard time deciding whether to use these paths, but after hearing this, I should. Only then, will someone like your father intervene. What was your father's profession in the military?



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