Sunday August 2, 2009 A week puttering in Helen’s Haven

Fearington Village, Chapel Hill, NC

Fearington Village, Chapel Hill, NC

If you have ever opened your garden for a fall garden tour, little needs to be said about what I am doing now.  It is a bit more involved opening a garden  in the fall than it is  in the spring.

I have forever been quirky about starting and endorsing fall garden tours.  I believe in a fall tour with all my gardening soul.  In the springtime, everyone is a gardener.  In the autumn, many gardeners fall short of continuing on.  Even the best gardeners.  Where they really fall short, in my opinion,  is realizing that fall gardening in one of the best of the four seasons to be in the garden, for the weather, for the plant palette, and for the planting.

In the spring, we are anxious to get outside and till some dirt, see some flowers.  In the autumn, we are ready to retire our hoe and look to a period of hibernation.  When January arrives, many wish they took advantage of the fall.  Cooler weather, and for the south, less humidity.  There is a freshness in the air.  The days grow shorter, as if the earth is winding down, and so are we.  Still, being outside with the fall colors and flowers is an absolute treat.  The grasses, asters, and sedums are peaking in the fall.  The butterflies animate the garden, birds are making plans, squirrels are storing nuts.

My garden, Helen’s Haven, will be on the  Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour, also benefiting the JC Raulston Arboretum, as well as the Garden Writer’s tour this September and a photo shoot for Nature’s Garden.  But it is now that I prepare.  I am in the mode of deadheading and deadleafing.  Pruning, trimming, editing.  It needs to be done now, so there is time to adjust, to flush out, to extend the bloom times, to stay tidy.

I don’t mind.  I feel fortunate that we are having the summer we are.  A fresh rain most afternoons, the typical handful of  100 degree days have eluded us,  we are even experiencing low humidity.  The fact that our humidity has been low for this late in the season has delighted me.  The typical summer of hot and hazy skies with a sun offering no relief have been replaced with blue skies, large, fluffy cumulonimbus clouds with a nice breeze.  Did I mention the blue skies?

So in the garden, go about my fun to better prepare me for fall.  Here is what I got going on:

  • Deadhead Shasta Daisies
  • Deadhead Monarda
  • Deadhead Cannas
  • Deadleaf daylilies
  • Mow
  • Moved 2 sky pencil hollies that were crowded.  I know, I know, the worse time to do so, but I had the time now.  So we shalll see.
  • Cleaned up the potting shed area
  • Removed a Buddleja.
  • Mowed
  • Weeded
  • Chased deer and bunnies
  • Refilled feeders
  • Harvested tomatoes, cukes, figs
  • Sowed more Zinnias
  • Deadhead Zuni Crepe Myrtle

Tim Alderton with the JCRA stopped by to help me name some of my plants; especially the interesting ones I have collected over the years (and lost the tags.)  This guy is UNBELIEVABLE.  He is a galloping Google, a biking Bing, or, in general, a walking wonder where plants are concerned.  Thanks for all you do Tim!

Tim and Alderton in the Winter Garden at the JCRA

Tim Alderton and Helen Yoest in the Winter Garden at the JCRA

8 year old Aster with a red-eyed tree frog in Helen's Haven

8 year old Aster with a squirrel tree frog in Helen's Haven

Don’t forget to check out my maintenance guide, This Month in the Garden – August

Helen Yoest
Gardening With Confidence



  1. Les said

    Amen to the comments about fall. In the South it is almost a second spring. Looks like you had a good time on the Outer Banks. What part to you normally visit?

  2. tina said

    You make sure you let me know when your garden is in Nature’s Garden so I can be sure to purchase it for a keepsake. I am excited for you! I pitched an idea to my garden club to do a fall garden tour for a fundraiser, you should’ve seen the looks I got. No way. That was not on the agenda and I am not sure why because fall gardens are mature and most folks who really garden have awesome gardens in the fall. Yours will shine!

  3. Janet said

    Wow Helen you have lots to get done!! I am sure it all looks lovely.

  4. […] I have forever been quirky about starting and endorsing fall garden tours. I believe in a fall tour with all my gardening soul See the original post: Sunday August 2, 2009 A week puttering in Helen's Haven … […]

  5. I was fresh out of college in the spring of 1987, making my way in the world with my first trip to see Rosemary Verey at Fearington Village. What a memory, even ths many years later. It was this trip that left the door open to visit her at Barnsley House a year later. One early morning during the conference, I potographed a farmer baling hay in the field behind the rose garden. the haze, the smells, the light…..all magic!

  6. gardenfences said

    I understand how hard you must be working! My garden in Austin was on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Garden Tour in May, 2008. It was a relatively new garden, and I worked and fretted from November, 2007 until the actual tour. In the long run, it was worth every minute. Now another organization has asked to tour in March of 2010. I’m a bit concerned about hosting a tour so early in our growing season.

    I am a new blogger in Texas (, but I am interested in NC gardens because my dad lives in Raleigh, and I sometimes help him and his wife with their gardens. I will certainly return to your blog and good luck with the garden tour.

  7. Amen is right Les!

  8. You lucky dog, Compost. Rosemary Verey is someone I would have dearly loved to have met!. H.

  9. Hey Janet, It is actually no more work for one thing that it is three. lol. But every year I hold the fall tour, the pressure is on. On the one hand, I tout great fall gardens, on the other hand, I need to keep an eye on hurricanes.

    But after they tours’ success, and I don’t doubt our area Garden Conservancy tour will be a success, I will be most most satisfied in showing gardeners what can actually be flourishing in a fall garden. If I convert just one person to garden into the fall, then I was successful indeed. H.

  10. Keep plugging along Tina. I think you either get the idea of a fall tour or you don’t. I know our visitors are always amazed to see what is blooming in the gardens. But the gardener who opens their garden in the fall are also gardeners, as in a life passion, not just fair weather gardeners.

    I know the one (and only that I know of) that I convinced a local garden club to do a fall tour, we had the worse summer. Even without rain, my name was MUD!


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