By Janet I. Martineau

Everyone’s house just got bigger, and busier, at the Horizons Town Talk program Tuesday at Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw Township.

Garden designer Gordon Hayward came bearing a simple message: “I want to help you live in a house in a garden.”

Garden vistas should beckon from inside the house and outside it, he stressed over and over—and on all four sides of the house and its angles and outback too. The two spaces should become one. Home owners and their visitors need to “get into gardens and not just walk past them.”

And while he showed slides of elegant and admittedly expensive transformations he has overseen in his career, Hayward also gave hope to the less wealthy. “My lecture is not designed to depress you but to give you a new way to think about your place. There are always alternatives to money—and maintenance.”

Sure, most of us cannot afford the large mid-lawn landscape pool seen in one picture. “But what about using that same rectangle space, fill it with landscape gravel/stones, edge it and then place potted plants all over it.”

Hailing from New England, Hayward says he is practical about things and sometimes the smallest explorations of garden principles can result in stunning changes in the relationships between gardens and homes.

Garden along BOTH paths leading up to the front door, not just one as is so typical, he said, and broaden out the area by the front door 6 to 10 feet.

In plotting that front-of-house garden, extend the garden out as wide as the house is high “so you see the garden, not the lawn,” from both inside and outside. “And fragrance is a wonderful thing around the front doors, especially lavender. It engages the senses.”

Entrance gardens also should have “lots of prepositions,” said the former high school English teacher, “and every one is an experience as you and visitors leave cars and traffic behind and enter a more private, softer, intimate landscape. There is big movement these days to make our houses feel more private.”

Hayward stressed he is a big fan of fences, benches, evergreens, boxwood borders, trees, shrubs, grasses and an arbor or trellis to create those garden preposition areas.

He also noted that “gardens are for people, not plants,” so make sure there are places for people to settle or to enjoy an emotional moment. Keep in mind, too, “that the southwest corner of a house warms up two weeks before anyplace else, so try to create a sitting area there.”

And don’t forget to garden with winter in mind. “Crab apple trees hold fruit, and thus interest, all winter. Explore things that stay vertical all winter.”

He also urged people to let their own personalities show. “Follow your own nose and not the ladies of the garden club. Yes, I know it takes nerve to break the mold of the neighborhood, but do it.

“Express who you are to other people, particularly in your entrance garden. Use garden ornaments that hint of the life inside (like a cast iron dog). Even bring your area’s history into the landscape, if possible.”

And sometimes, too, ignore trends. “We also have gone curving mad in our garden design. Straight lines are OK. Near the house you can make the lines parallel, and as you move away from the house then start your curves. Or maybe create four quadrants rather than straight beds.”

And then with a chuckle, Hayward said, “And here is a cutting edge design idea. Get the stuff cleared out of the garage and put your car in there to get ride of this big chrome thing that just destroys your home/garden entrance.”

© Janet I. Martineau