The White Pathway

In our yard exist many corners that have not yet been cultivated. Most of these spots may never receive more than a cursory attempt at management. While I was mowing today I drove through one such area that completely caught me off guard. Along our back property line is an old fence that I’m sure was there before our subdivision became what it is today and was probably used to keep cattle contained. The back area of our yard, which continues up a hillside and along the fence, was completely left alone and naturalized for several years. Last fall I began to make pathways through the brushy hillside so that we could move around our property. The pathways aren’t anything spectacular, just simple cut grass areas through the brush, but enable us to use a little bit more of our yard.
It was this seldom cared for pathway tucked away in the back of the yard that struck me as being particularly special. As I drove the mower through the pathway the sun shone down in such a way to illuminate all the white wildflowers that have grown on either side of the path. The filtered sunlight and dappled shade highlighted the area in such a way that I was forced to immediately drive my mower back to the garage and retrieve my camera. I was struck by the well placed, natural beauty of the scene. Has a scene from your garden ever prompted you to do the same?
Planting en mass is a popular technique that works very well in places but I never would have though to plant so much white in one area. It’s clear that a mass of white flowers might be a nice treatment for certain areas particularly those in full to part shade. Mother nature planted this area with two white blooming wildflowers:
Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides
or White Heath Aster

Heath Aster has a wide distribution across the states and is widely considered a weed but looks pretty nice in the right setting. Each year they will produce thousands of seeds and have almost completely covered our hillside.

Ageratina altissima (Eupatorium rugosum)
or White Snakeroot

Here the white snakeroot is mixed in the shade with the heath aster. Snakeroot is blooming all along our back property line where it receives mostly shade. It’s white flowers brighten up the shade and seem to make those spots glow with a light of their own. There is some interesting information at Wikipedia concerning it’s poisonous nature.

Together these two naturally occurring wildflowers have created a white pathway for fall.  Since I have other areas to attend to and other projects in need of attention I’m content to let the white pathway stand as it is. Maybe one day I’ll add a little something to this area but for now I’ll leave it to Mother Nature to design!

7 Replies to “The White Pathway”

  1. Dave, The snakeroot lit by the sun is beautiful…It's a wonderful plant for massing…since it will mass if left alone! Interesting that your white aster is blooming, mine isn't.. It's a bit later here. It was wonderful to be outside in the sunshine! gail

  2. You are the best! Let me tell you I just got back from NC and the owner of the nursery I went to told me the BEST aster on his grounds was this eriaceae aster-the heath aster. He called it snow flurry but I have purchased snow flurry and this is not like the one I had gotten in stores so not the same. I know it is the same as the heath aster-an appropriate name since it likes those acid conditions. I hope mine spreads like this and will be planting in some shade-looks like there is shade in this path? It is most pretty and the white makes your path shine.

  3. ooh! I think I've seen the aster on quite a few lawns here in my TN 'burbs and have been quite jealous that they've been lacking on my lawn. They seems like a nice addition to a usually useless feeling lawn, attracting the pollinators and all 🙂

  4. ooh! I think I've seen the aster on quite a few lawns here in my TN 'burbs and have been quite jealous that they've been lacking on my lawn. They seems like a nice addition to a usually useless feeling lawn, attracting the pollinators and all 🙂

  5. I love this time of year! The purple asters do the same and on a rare occasion goldrod will be beautiful in a sunny field!

  6. Hi Dave, I envy the space you have and the fact that it is flat enough for a riding mower too. The planting by nature is perfect! Those asters and snake root are everywhere around here too and blooming now along with the goldenrod. Makes for quite a show. I love that you have a space left to its own devices. 🙂

  7. Gail,

    You're right about the massing! It's crept up all over the back and I kind of like it!


    The path is way in the back corner of the yard. It's not I place I really go to often which is probably why the scene surprised me. I probably have way too much of the aster here. It really only looks great during the fall. The rest of the season the foliage isn't too impressive. The flowers resemble flea bane.

    Persephone Persephone, 😉

    There are all kinds of asters that look great this time of year. Go get one!


    I'd love to see some purple asters up there. The slope has a good deal of golden rod already and I'm hoping to get the ironweed to colonize better.


    If I had my dream property it would be mostly untouched wilderness with random garden spots found along paths. You would walk around an area completely untouched except for that pathway then stumble into surprise gardens. As for it being flat…well let's just say that I mow that area one of two ways…up or down!

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