Archive for May, 2009

Sunday May 31, 2009 A week puttering in Helen’s Haven

First harvested butterfly of the year

First harvested butterfly of the year

With the first butterfly emerging yesterday, I can officially kick of a new gardening year.  It’s always thrilling to see one emerge.

At lunch with GG this week, we found a discarded  outdoor fireplace that would make a perfect chrysalis house.  It was too heavy for me to put in the van or I would have it here now.  The only thing keeping me from reaching for the additional strength needed to make it happen was that it was bent – a little – and I wasn’t sure if I could make it work.  Well, that and the fact that I wasn’t totally convinced it was in the trash.  No answer when I knocked at the door.

  • Signed up for the 2009 Butterfly count.  Haven’t hear back for the coordinator.
  • Moved Heuchera ‘Dolce Black Current’ from one area of the Red Bed to another.
  • Thinned Bee balm, purple Salvia, obedient plant
  • Pulled Artemisia
  • Cut down a volunteer Holly.  Couldn’t believe I let it get so big.
  • Mowed with my neighbors mower…still waiting for our part to repair the wheel.
  • Relocated 2 squirrels.
  • Two loads to the yard waste center.
  • Measured rain from storm.
  • Bummer, it doesn’t look like Colocasia esculenta ‘Rhubarb’ made it through the winter.
  • Scratched poison ivy.

Do doubt there was more, I just can’t remember it all. I have more important things on my mind right now, like three kids getting out of school for the summer on June 3rd.  The excitement should last , oh I don’t know, a week at  least!

Copy and Photos by Helen Yoest
Gardening With Confidence


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Beyond Bunnies: Hypertufa troughs – the perfect planter. Colorful concrete leaves – the perfect accent.

Hypertufa Troughs

Hypertufa Troughs – An earthy and natural container that goes with everything.

Providing the perfect container for many plants, but particularly conifers and sedums, hypertufa troughs are fun and easy to make while also providing many years of good looking service.

Modeled after stone troughs that were once used to hold water and feed for live stock in England and the Orient – then re-purposed into planters. But when there weren’t enough to go around or as they became too pricey, people began to make their own. A worthy container in their own right, hypertufa troughs should not be considered a poor substitute to the real thing – they are the perfect planter.

From garden designer Suzanne Edney's garden

From garden designer Suzanne Edney's garden

Colorful Concrete Leaves – Ever notice how a leaf goes with everything?  Make it colorful and it becomes a garden accent with just the right amount of whimsy.

Raleigh is fortunate in that we have Beth Jimenez and Amelia of  Lane of Lasting Impressions Concrete Sculptures offering Hypertufa and Concrete leaf workshops this summer!!

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Hypertufa Workshops: Tuesday, July 21 and Saturday, July 25,  9AM – 12PM

Registration: Two weeks prior to class date.  Cost: $45

Concrete leaf Workshops: Tuesday, June 16 and Saturday, June 20, 9AM – 12PM

Registration:  Two weeks prior to class date

Cost: $45 for concrete leaf; $50 for concrete leaf garden stake

The class gives you detailed and attentive instructions.  Sign up to make your own hypertufa, leaf sculpture or garden stake. For your leaf,  Beth and Amelia will also give you tips for painting the sculpture once it has set up and cured.  All materials will be provided.  If you want a particular leaf, please bring it with you – yes, that’s right, these concrete leaves are cast with real leaves.

Have questions?  Please email Amelia Lane at or call 919-787-6228.

To register for a workshop, please make your check payable to Lasting Impressions and send to 4904 Hermitage Dr.,
Raleigh, NC 27612

Lasting Impressions will also be at the Larkspur Party June 6/7, 2009

This sounds like fun, hope to see you there.

Copy and Photos by Helen Yoest

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Spring at Montrose

Montrose 002cA humble brick column with an embossed plaque reading “Montrose 320” is all that tells me I’ve arrived at Montrose.

Even passing through wrought iron gates doesn’t adequately prepare me for what lies beyond; for what I’m about to see.

Montrose is the home and garden of Nancy and Craufurd Goodwin.  Today, the gardens are open.  As a sponsored project of the Garden Conservancy, these gardens’ future are now protected, allowing them to be open “tomorrow” as well.

With an ambitious beginning in the mid 19th century, Governor William Alexander Graham and his wife, Susan Washington Graham, began a complex of gardens.  In 1977 when the Goodwin’s purchased the property, they began nurturing and expanding these gardens.

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Because of Nancy Goodwin’s tireless efforts, Montrose is now a nationally known destination garden.Montrose 005

My recent visit was a private opening to a few of Nancy’s friends.  “Just a few friends,” says Nancy. A few friends indeed!  The many guests were from the learned gardening community who has visited Montrose many times.  All of us there were admiring the work it took to accomplish what Montrose is today.  The creating of Montrose was no small feat.

You will not be disappointed taking the time to tour Montrose.  Spring is a lovely time to do so.

Guided garden tours are available by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 AM and Saturdays at either 10:00 AM or 2:00 PM.  For more information or reservations, please call 919.732.7787 between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.


320 St. Mary’s Road

Hillsborough, NC

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Story and photos by
Helen Yoest
Gardening With Confidence

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Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, May 24, 2009 A week puttering in Helen’s Haven

It’s really been two weeks since I posted all that goes on in Helen’s Haven and Gardening With Confidence’s world.  I’ll just gloss over the highlights.

Last Sunday I didn’t post because  my family and I were in

Us in Time Square

Us in Times Square

New York City to soak up some culture.  My kids want to go back.  So do I.  We visited the Natural History Museum, took in Lion King, ate multiple pieces of pizza pie, went to  Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, checked out the Statue of Liberty, and acted like goofy tourist in Times Square.  The usual.

This was the first time I took all three kids.  Most years, I will have one in tow or go with a friend.  One year, Lily and I did some gardens.  This year, we didn’t go to any.

They loved the subway and I loved how they compared it to other transit systems they have experienced so far – those of  Spain and France.

My gift to these young’ins,  is the gift of travel.  I’m giving them the opportunity to be wide-eyed and bushy-ed-tailed all around the world and the USA too.  Oh for a stronger dollar.

Saturday, I visited Nancy Goodwin’s Montrose.  It was a lovely day in the garden.  Montrose looked awesome. Magical.   I’ll post about that next week.  Here a sneak photo to pique your interest.

Montrose.  Photo taken in the Blue Garden

Montrose. Photo taken in the Blue Garden

Helen’s Haven is a test garden for Proven Winners.  This week was spent planting pots and beds with this years’ selection.  Check out this photo – it’s really Christmas in May!!!

Proven Winners selection for Helen's Haven to grow

Proven Winners selection for Helen's Haven to grow

I’m pleased with some of the container combinations I created.  Results will be posted later in the season.

As I came and went, I managed to have some fun in the garden:

  • Transplanted a ‘Blue Chip’ form the North Border to the Sidewalk Garden.
  • Fretted over the Cow birds that moved into Helen’s Haven.  My friend, James Baggett, Editor Country Gardens soothed me by reminding me they are native birds.  We may not like what they do, so  plan to just observe Mother Nature as she intended.  He’s right, of course.  Just as I was about to take Jame’s advice, they moved on.
  • Planted a Virginia sweetspire ‘Henry Garnet’ I picked up in Wilmington, NC
  • Planted Rose of Sharon ‘Lavender Chiffon’.
  • Pruned peonies and  roses.
  • Mowed.  Tried to mow this week, but the wheel fell off.  It just fell off.  Ordered new part; need to borrow mower from our dear neighbors.  Not the first time I’ve had to borrow from them.
  • Trimmed back half the Bee Balm to stagger bloom times.
  • Called to the frogs.
  • Set up another rotting fruit station for the wildlife.
  • Added another flat tray ground feeder for the birds such as Mourning Doves and Towhees
  • Had Heather help me whack back the Forsythia.  Need to work on it a little more.
  • Racked Magnolia leaves.  ‘Tis the season to drop leaves.  Should be over soon.
  • Planted a Red Homestead.  I’m excited about this.  Hope it makes it through the winter.  The reds and purples look GREAT together.
  • Planted King Tut near the fountain (one of the Proven Winners.)
  • Read up on Copperhead snakes since I heard there had been some sightings and bitings in the neighborhood.  Working in a garden once, on my knees, I came nose to nose with a Copperhead.  I’m not sure where doing the right think came from, but I froze, then slowly backed out and away.
  • Leveled some pots.
  • Pitched some stories to my editors.

It was a good couple of weeks.  Wrote my column, drafted another story, blogged, client consults, maintenance, design, preparing for a couple of talks…all in the world of a Garden Coach.  Very happy I’m able to work in a field that gives me so much satisfaction.

Enjoy this spring…it’s the only one we will have this year!

Copy and photos by Helen Yoest

Gardening With Confidence

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Are you ready to weed?

Are you ready to weed?  Ask me and I’ll tell you exactly how I feel about weeding.  Am I ready to weed?  In a word, No.  Weeding ranks low with most gardeners.  Speaking for everyone, we tend to like to prune, plant, even water; but weed?  Nah.  Weeding ranks low, as low as the weeds go.

Nutsedge weed

Nutsedge weed

Some weeds are thought of with more disdain than others.  My personal weed to loath is nutsedge.  The devil himself holds it back from being pulled successfully.  And it likes to procreate.  First there is one, then another and another and another.  Nothing kills it, organic or otherwise.  It matches the color of grass, kind of, so it would be OK in the grass except, it grows at twice the rate.

As I read Roy Dick’s book Rhapsody in Green The garden wit and wisdom of Beverley Nichols, I learn the source of the original quote “A weed is a flower in the wrong place.”  It was written by the then director of Kew Gardens, Sir Edward Salisbury.  In the case of nutsedge, I’ve considered, but can’t conceive, any place it would be acceptable in Helen’s Haven.  Yet, there she grows.

In the spirit of the quote, I’m assuming Sir Salisbury must have been referring to flowers scattered about by wind and wildlife.  True for cowslip, but not nutsedge.

The best defense for weeds is prevention.  The obvious is mulching to keep the light from germinating the weed seed.  Weed seed can lie dormant until light strikes.  As such, turning a new garden bed raises weed seeds to the surface resulting in germination.  It is helpful to be patient and prepared when building of a new bed.  After the ground is turned, wait for the seeds to germinate.  Then hoe them down, plant, and top dress with mulch.

As a child, I don’t remember there being so many different weeds around.  We had Bermuda growing in our Centipede.  If we had a Bermuda lawn, the Centipede would have been the weed.  We also had to contend with wild onions.  Now I deal with spurges, henbit, chickweed, and anything else that isn’t suppose to be there including bee balm in Helen Haven’s Woodland Gardens.  The Bee Balm is supposed to stay in the Mixed Border with an occasional visit to the Crinum Bed.

Weed we must.  A little weeding with each visit to the garden keeps this garden task manageable.

Helen Yoest
Gardening With Confidence

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Helen’s Haven gets a nip and tuck – nipping nippons, tucking tansys.

There are many plants in Helen’s Haven that are fine on their own, but many are even better with a little help from me.  With a little nip here and tuck there, I’m able to delay blooms, prevent leggy-ness, and share the wealth.

Nipping to Delay Bloom Time

In one area of the Mixed Border, there is a batch of bee balm, Monarda ‘Jacob’s Cline.’

In the winter, there is nothing showing in this area ‘cept seed.  Winter is

Front of bee balm batch nipped to delay bloom
Front of bee balm batch nipped to delay bloom

followed by the birth of tiny Monarda giving spring greens.  In early summer, haunting red blooms flower their hearts out.  These flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.    After the flowers are spent, the Cannas arrive taking the border through frost.

Bee balm reseeds herself readily in Helen’s Haven despite mulching with a heavy hand.  Some find bee balm too aggressive a re-seeder to want in their garden. Indeed it is.  However, I also find it easy to thin out.

At home in a wildlife garden such as Helen’s Haven, or cottage and country gardens, bee balm responds well to nipping back.  To extend the display, I nip back half of the plants.  This nipping delays blooming, effectively extending the flowering time, giving more time for the wildlife to enjoy and allows more time for the Cannas to fill out.

Nipped Nippon Daisy

Nipped Nippon Daisy

Nipping to Prevent Leggy-ness

Many plants benefit from nipping to prevent leggy-ness.  A great example is the Nippon daisy.  This plant is a great fall bloomer.  Always starting out in a nice mound; but if not nipped, it will get leggy.  Nippon daisy can be nipped several times up to about July 4th.  Then let it go.  A little nip helps her stay in shape.

Tucking to Share the Wealth

I tuck tansy cuz I can.  I also nip her.  In the spring, the lacy leaf is a great addition to the garden.  In Helen’s Haven, the leaf is valued more than the flower.  When it goes to flower, it tends to get leggy – not that this is a

Tansy in the back ground

Tansy in the background

problem, but when it goes to flower, the leaves start to look ratty.  To me, the leaf is so desirable, it is tucked in other places of the garden; tucked in areas that could benefit from a little green.  Tucking Tansy in the back border is done often.

Tansy is also shared often here, passing along plants to friends to tuck in their gardens as well.

Other plants that are nipped and tucked in Helen’s Haven:








Give your garden a little nip and tuck.  Help your garden stay in shape and get around.

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May 2009 Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day – Helen’s Haven

Last week, it sure seemed like summer was here to stay.  This week in Raleigh, we experienced a very nice spring again.

Once again, we look around the garden for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.   Carol at May Dreams Gardens started this as a nod to Elizabeth Lawrence.  Here’s my nod to Carol.  Enjoy!

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Well, I tried to get them all up.  I’ll let these represent the rest.  I hope you enjoyed this visit to Helen’s Haven and return often.  Helen’s Haven is a wildlife habitat, sustainable and organic garden on an half acre lot in Raleigh, NC

Helen Yoest

Gardening With Confidence

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