Consider it a manifesto against foundation plantings, those familiar beds of rhododendron, yew, holly, and euonymus first used to cloak the high foundation walls of tall Victorian-era homes. "Foundation planting has become a safe cliche—it's time to move on," proclaims Gordon Hayward, who works nationwide as a garden designer and lecturer, and is the author of 10 books on landscape design. Hayward is a proponent of the entry garden, wide borders flanking a front walk that serves as the garden's spine. "I want you to walk through and experience the front garden rather than pass it by," he says.
A fine example is the entry garden he designed for the 1860 house shown here. To give the historic house's facade its due, homeowner Ramsey Yoder and his late wife, Patty, first commissioned stone steps and low walls to terrace the hillside and emphasize the front-door focal point. Then they called on Hayward to design a carefully composed garden that would deliver summerlong color, winter interest, and a mix of textures.
He started, as always, by creating the winter garden first, placing evergreen and deciduous shrubs for year-round structure. Then he planned a sequence of blooming perennials and filled in with annuals, placing any fragrant plants close to the path. The resulting garden ties the house into the surrounding landscape, and, just as important, says Hayward, "it creates a sense of welcome, for your friends, your family, and yourself, too."
Pro Tip: "In mixed borders, aim to juxtapose textures that contrast with one another. Generally, leaves are categorized as broad, strap shaped, or frilly. So you might place a broad-leaved hosta next to a frilly-leaved fern next to a strappy daylily for maximum interest." —Gordon Hayward, garden designer