September 19, 2009

Garden Inspiration: Helen's Haven

When it comes to focal points in the garden, Helen Yoest knows what goes and grows well together! Perfectly placed objects partner with plants to create delightful vignettes as you meander along the charming paths.

I had the pleasure of visiting Helen and her garden, Helen's Haven, during the Garden Conservancy Open Days in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Helen is, as my husband stated, "a ball of energy" as she is a mom to three children, a gardener, a garden writer, a volunteer, champion and organizer of many charitable and worthwhile causes.

I first met Helen back in the winter, and she's great fun. I know that I could easily spend hours upon hours hanging out with Helen! After a warm greeting, all it took was "you have society garlic" and "love the castor bean plants" for Helen to present me with paper bags and seeds to bring home.

A flowing fountain in the front yard garden is framed by architectural plants, ground covers, perennials and annuals.

The curb appeal of Helen's garden is quite dynamic and I'm sure her neighbors must be thrilled to have such a beautiful view when driving past her house each day. This section was on the right side, while the left side included some beautiful roses along with the other plants. Boxwood hedges curve along the paths to carry you into the side gardens.

The tall, bending stems of cleome echo the shape of the bottle tree "branches" in the backyard garden.

Her backyard garden includes several connected "rooms" to enjoy, each one with welcoming paths. Among the different rooms, Helen has an herb garden, a formal section, and a mixed border that slopes down to create a colorful display for enjoying from her fabulous porch (that I'd call a loggia). Interspersed are places to sit as well as spaces for her children to play.

The birds, bees and butterflies find both homes and food in Helen's garden. During my visit, I noticed hummingbirds, a downy woodpecker and goldfinches darting among the flowers and feeders. Helen had a few interesting "garden friends" enjoying time on her back porch in their chrysalis houses. One interesting character was a saddleback caterpillar moth.

The gardens are filled with ornamental trees, shrubs and vines that work together to give the gardens a sense of lushness while serving as "walls" to separate the garden rooms.

I understand why the garden is called "Helen's Haven" as it is indeed a welcoming sanctuary for all who are fortunate enough to spend a little time there. My thanks to Helen for opening her garden to inspire and encourage gardeners. What a delightful visit!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: Helen Yoest's Garden (Raleigh, NC); September 2009
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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