Totally exposed, the old front yard consisted of a sickly lawn.
Once the ugliest yard on the whole block, this entry garden in Bremerton, Washington, is now one of the most inviting, thanks to a significant relandscaping effort by owner John Paulsen.
When he and his family moved in, the yard was almost barren, and there was a dangerous drop-off between the front walk and a deeply recessed driveway.
To solve both problems, Paulsen decided to enclose the yard with a fence that runs along the sidewalk and the driveway.
Paulsen designed and built the lattice fence himself, setting the stepped sections back slightly from the sidewalk to accommodate a planting strip.
The cedar fence is 3 feet tall except for a 4-foot-tall section near the porch. To form the latticework, 2-by-4s were ripped (i.e., cut lengthwise) in half, then strung between 4- by 4-inch posts. The top and bottom rails are beveled to shed rain readily, a necessity in the Pacific Northwest. The wood is coated with a transparent oil-based stain.
Inside the fence, a curving path of flagstones dotted with Corsican mint leads to the front door. The path threads through a cottage garden featuring a palette of plants (see list on next page) that landscape designer Anne Janisse helped Paulsen select.
DESIGN: Anne Janisse, City People's Gardens Design & Landscape, Seattle (206/324-0963)
Next: See inside the fence, and get the plant list
A mix of perennials, shrubs, and small trees provides year-round texture and seasonal color.
Variegated potato vine (Solanum jasminoides 'Variegatum') bears white flowers throughout the year and gold-and-green leaves.
Senecio greyi has gray-green leaves and yellow summer daisies.
Spanish lavender (Lavendula stoechas 'Otto Quast') displays deep purple flower spikes in spring and early summer over gray-green foliage.
Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) carries dark green leaves with white undersides and spikes of fragrant purple flowers in summer.
New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax 'Rubrum') brandishes swordlike maroon leaves.
Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis', a China rose, has single blooms in shades of buff, pink, and red from spring into winter.
'Sango Kaku' Japanese maple displays yellow leaves in fall and red branches in winter.