Sunday, October 11, 2009 Puttering In Helen’s Haven

October 2009 GBBD 036

I have been nesting.  The feeling has been very similar to right before my children were born.  I wondered why I was feeling this way until  remembered the book.

This version of nesting is to finish loose ends before I sit down and work on the book.  Finish, clean, ponder, plant.  Once I get started on the book, there will be little time for anything else.  I’m so very excited.

Starting the book this week began with the  Table of Contents.  Once complete, this will gave me a map to go forward.  The middle part of the book  – the writing – will be easy, the final bit about commas, capitalization, etc will be tedious, but necessary.  For now, I’m all smiles.

I have been following my own list as I work in the garden.  I update these lists on a regular basis.  I hope you find The Month in the Garden – October useful as well.

On my mission for more productive space in the garden, more grass had to go.  I didn’t like the shape of this bit of grass.  It wasn’t efficient to mow, nor did I like to look of the curve.  Extending  it out made for a nice curve and allows for more  planting.

This week,  I cut the new edge, replaced the stepping stones to better fit the space, turned the ground to kill the grass, planted tulips, covered turned ground with 8 – 10 layers of newspaper, and top dressed with composted leaf mulch.

The new edge cut.  Not the the area reduced

Before - The new edge cut. Note the new area reduced

After with a top dressing of composted leaf mulch

After - Top dressed with composted leaf mulch

I have a habit of doing this; this reducing the lawn thing.  But think I’m done now.  I can see an area of the front that will be targeted for next year.

Last year, in the back, I did my last lawn reduction and I still like what I have left.  The scale is perfect and the kids enjoy the cool turf to play on.  But the front could have benefited from more…so more it was.   Not sure what will be planted there.  I will use the fall and winter to prepare the ground fro a spring planting.  The method I described above  preps the soil by letting nature take her course.  In front of the tulips, I  sowed seeds of  spinach and beets.

There were three other existing garden beds that I extended. Check out Lawn Refrom to see what others are doing to reduce their lawn.

This week’s mulch from the City of Raleigh was a bit sour.  This surprised me greatly.  I expect this type of condition in the spring.  The fall is usually well composted since the leaves have had a year to cook.  I laid it anyway.  The smell is finally gone.

Hoyt Bangs, owner of Waterwise Garden Design brought his class by to visit Helen’s Haven as an example of a waterwise garden design.  It is always fun to share my garden.

Planted poppies, Papaver fornesett ‘Summer’, Papaver ‘ Little Dancing Girl’, and Papaver ‘Pattty S. Plum’ even though I’m told  they are not likely to do well for me here, I must find out for myself.

Closed Helen’s Haven compost pile and set and began a new one in a different area of the garden.

Closed compost pile after 18 months

Closed compost pile after 18 months

At Helen’s Haven we cold compost.  Cold composting is basically piling yard waste and kitchen scraps in one area and let it break down naturally.  There is not turning, no following of formulas, not temperature to monitor.   It just slowly degrades.  This is a good method for areas when the product – the compost – is not being generated for use elsewhere in the garden.  It is a convenient way to reduce what goes to the city.  In about a year, this area will reduced.  I can use the space again to compost, use the compost that is made  or do nothing.  I each case, the area will have benefited, and so will the City.

Put up Fresh Basil Pesto for the winter.  Thought you would enjoy the recipe.  This blog post was also featured on Susan Reimer’s blog at  Baltimore Sun – Garden Variety

  • Planted Habranthus robustus given to my by my friend Amelia.  She actually dug up a bucket full and announced they for the taking to the JCRA Volunteers list serve.  I just happen to be driving by when the email popped up on my iPhone…I left plenty for others.
  • Planted 80 Apeldoorn Tulips
  • Planted 12 Cheerfulness Daffs
  • Planted 12 Yellow Cheerfulness Daffs

My garden, Helen’s Haven, was written about at My Corner of KathyCity Gardening

We have not yet had a frost.  Helen’s Haven is still in full flower with abundant wildlife.  We are also still enjoying fresh tomatoes from Aster’s Victory garden.  Two plants have provided our family and the neighbor’s with tomatoes since June.

Copy and photos by Helen Yoest

Helen Yoest is a garden writer and coach through her business Gardening With Confidence Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her Facebook page, the Gardening With Confidence fan page. Helen also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum.



  1. tina said

    You’ve been busy and I know it will be a relief to get all done so you can start that book. I’m going to check out Kathy’s post on your garden now.

  2. Sue said

    Hi, I am looking for blog posts to pick in the A to K list, and stopping occasionally to make comments. I hope your book writing goes well. I like the changes you made to your garden.

  3. Thanks Tina and Sue!

    Tina – did you get your night lighting questions answered?

    Sue – it has been a long time.


  4. Janet said

    You make me feel bad just enjoying the day and not mulching, composting, cleaning up, dividing, etc. Good for you Helen. Love the look of the new mulched area.

  5. Gail said

    You have been busy…I love the nesting metaphor….Once the baby is born there is no time for anything else; so the nursery needs to be finished or it never will! I do like the expanded garden. We are fortunate that lawns are shallow rooted. gail

  6. Carole said

    I love the stone herons keeping watch over your garden! Also your lawn reduction plan looks beautiful. I love the new curve much better. I’m linking to this post in my weekly best of the web. It will come out this Saturday.

    I totally understand the nesting impulse as I am currently working on my book, too. Here’s hoping your writing journey is as smooth as possible! I can’t wait to read it.

  7. […] Yoest over at Gardening with Confidence, takes us on a tour in Puttering in Helen’s Haven. See beautiful photos of her latest lawn reduction efforts, and discover her upcoming […]

  8. I love it….gobble up that lawn! If you have a lawn loving husband you can do it by stealth…a foot at a time 🙂
    Enjoying your blog.

  9. […] Yoest over at Gardening with Confidence, takes us on a tour in Puttering in Helen’s Haven. See beautiful photos of her latest lawn reduction efforts, and discover her upcoming […]

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: