Regarding gravel: We chose gravel because we could not afford pavers or find enough bricks for such a large space. Don’t get pea gravel, which rolls around under your feet. One-quarter crushed gravel is angular and flinty and sort of locks together, so it tamps down nicely. After a couple heavy rains, it felt much more solid and settled.
Spring kicks off with tulips, bread poppies, and peonies, giving way to the night-blooming daylily Hemerocallis citrina, thalictrum, goat's beard, 'Indigo Spires' salvias, and 'Sum and Substance' hostas in summer. Fall brings on 'Limelight' hydrangeas, 'Autumn Joy' sedums, and tickseed,