Gordon and Mary Hayward's Vermont Farmhouse | The Gardener's House
Much of this early heavy lifting the Haywards did themselves. They stripped plaster walls of tattered wallpaper, refinished them, and painted them white; they seeded newly cleared grounds with grass. Color choices and experimental plantings could wait. “It was a matter of getting it to a point where we could manage it,” Mary says, “so we could keep it under control.”
“At one point, I got up on the metal roof, which was just covered with rust, and I wire-brushed the whole exterior of the house—roof and sides,” Gordon says. “We were driven.” With a laugh, Mary adds, “We were into work.”
During those early years, the property became an experimental site for Gordon, who quit teaching in 1985 and launched himself as one of the country’s leading garden designers, with landscape projects that have taken him all over the United States. He’s the author of 11 books, including Your House, Your Garden, which was lauded by the American Horticultural Society as a top title in 2004, and he’s been a regular contributor to Horticulture and Fine Gardening magazines.
“When we bought this place, we had an opportunity to express what interested us,” Gordon says. “It became our laboratory, where we learned about plants, where we learned about design.”
Today, the Haywards’ home is a full expression of their identity as gardeners and Vermonters. Theirs is a house not overrun by indoor plants but instead is oriented toward the work they’ve done outside it. Exterior doors open up to paths that lead to the garden, while windows frame the view of the grounds: trees and shrubs, arbors and statues.
“One of the big things I stress when I lecture is this goal that we should live in a house in a garden, and that the two should relate to each other,” says Gordon, whose property now includes a 1.5-acre garden bordered on two sides by 18 acres of reclaimed pastures. “What you see out the windows is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer. You live in a house 12 months a year, and the gardens should answer that.” That means that even in the depths of winter, the Gordons’ views reveal spots of color. A small orchard of crabapple trees bear red fruit deep into the season, while hedges and other evergreens show something other than white throughout the year.