Helen’s Haven 2012 – a humble beginning
I’m hoping March will be the start of the new year for me. So far this calendar year, I’ve tried to keep up with a challenging schedule as I met deadlines, gave talks, and finished writing my book. As of this week, the draft of my book, 50 Ways to Garden with Confidence, is officially complete. As it goes through the edit stages, I’m looking ahead to where I can direct my established momentum. I have two books in mind and will slowly begin a bit on each. In the meantime, I’m taking my blog in a new direction, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
When garden blogging began, most people started blogging about their garden. But in the 5 years I’ve been blogging, I’ve written very little about my garden. I’ve written about Helen’s Haven some, but not as much I should have.
This was mostly because it has a complicated design that I’ve never taken the time to adequately describe. Nor have I tried to explain why I did what I did. My garden was never about what is pretty for pretty’s sake; it has a purpose. Pretty is part of that purpose, but my garden is also a sustainable, water-wise, organic, wildlife habitat.
Now I want to share my thinking on the building of Helen’s Haven. My goal for my blog this year is to write about my garden and the passion that went into each of the various garden beds. Over the 14 years I’ve gardened at Helen’s Haven, the garden’s structure and purpose have changed drastically in some ways. But in other ways, the change was just a natural progression as I got bored with a landscape, or made an important shift to water-wise design, or wanted to add more natives to the gardens.
When I give tours of my garden, I usually start at the mailbox and traverse the lawn to the various beds. I don’t believe I will use that order for writing about the gardens, though. Most likely, I’ll start in order of importance. Yes, I have a favorite child—I like some beds better than others.
Recently I was asked by Rebecca Pledger, JC Raulston Arboretum Graduate Student and president of the North Carolina State University Pi Alpha Xi (PAX) Horticultural Honor Society, to speak at their initiation banquet, where she wrote, “I would love for you to be our guest speaker at our initiation banquet. I have heard you speak many times and I love your enthusiasm and your words of wisdom.”
I’ve met Rebecca at Arboretum Friends’ meetings. Often I’ve watched her, in a casual ponytail, with a fantastic future ahead of her and I wonder what I might have done differently if I knew then what I know now. I’m a bit envious of Rebecca for knowing what she wants.
So when she asked me to speak to the group about how I got into horticulture and to share some wisdom with the other graduate students, I immediately felt like a fraud. But I knew what I would share—the humble beginning of my horticulture career. It only took me 30 years to get here. It all started with a gladiolus.
The next post will be the speech I gave to the new initiates. This speech tells the tale of how I became the hort head I am today.
Then the documentation of building Helen’s Have will begin — the good, the bad, the what was I thinking? My goal is to complete this in 2012. It’s a goal, anyway. Since the speech addresses how I got into horticulture, I feetl it was the natural beginning as to how I came to build Helen’s Haven.
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