2016 New Year’s Day–My Annual I’m Gonnas

Posted by on January 1, 2016

This is the year I turn 60. Yup, that’s right; and five years ago, I put into action my five-year plan. I wanted to make sure that when I was older, I would still be able to care for my garden, Helen’s Haven.

Helen’s Haven is VERY important to me. And while I’m still kicking, in good health, and with the willingness to get out there and dig, I wanted to make sure I had planned well enough so that in my future, I’d be ready. I wanted a garden that gave back, not just be pretty, and one that when need be, it would be uncomplicated enough, I could direct a mow, blow, & go team to work it.

This annual I’m Gonnas is a departure of the top 10 list I typically write. This annual message is about what I’ve been doing the last five years, and what I see going forward. Even though I’m  perfectly capable on continuing, I didn’t want to be blindsided and then, not only having to worry about my health, but also my garden, which is my therapy, my cathedral, my exercise.  Some may say, when a catastrophe occurs, priorities change. This is true, but why can’t I have both? With a little planning, the worry of who will care for the garden doesn’t have to be.  Moreover, I know I’ll need my garden even more should my health fail; thus I’ve been renovating my garden to be a Forever Garden.

I’m currently in discussions with Timber Press to publish this book. I hope it works out, b/c The Forever Garden was what I’ve envisioned writing my entire writing career, but it took a life time of learning to be ready to write it.  I may have had some dips and turns in my gardening experiences, but all that lead me to being an active–almost–senior gardener.

My main gardening goal is to educate.; to be able to share with others what I’ve been doing in my Raleigh garden these past 18 years. It has been exciting to me and I look forward to sharing it with you.

I garden with a purpose, as I hope everyone seeing their future in a Forever Garden does. My garden, Helen’s Haven, is a wildlife and pollinator habitat. I’ll use my garden, as an example in the book, but also share with others have done.

Helen’s Haven is organic garden, waterwise, sustainable, and never treated with fertilizer, herbicide, or pesticide.  My garden receives a fresh application of composted leaf mulch annually. Weeds are suppressed, soil temperatures are moderated, it looks great, plus, as it breaks down, it adds nutrients to the soil.

Helen's Haven in November

These last five years have been a whirlwind. Once I realized that I wanted to stay here as my forever house, I needed a Forever Garden.

I’m sorta surprised it took me so many years to renovate; I could only do a little at a time, I took my time to make it right. The last two years were the most intense. Every single plant in the garden was evaluated. If there was a tree that was purely ornamental, I replaced it with a productive tree…assuming it made since design-wise.

The maintenance has been reduced considerably. One thing I’m working on now, is a list of the annual chores needed to keep my garden looking mighty fine. So many efficiencies have been put in place that my weekly maintenance is manageable and I’m now free to do other things, like travel, go to exhibits, and even visit more garden.

I’ve dedicated one of my infamous composition notebooks for an annual chore chart. This will not replace my weekly to-do list, but now that so much has been set in place, even the weekly maintenance should be reduced. I will keep a detailed list of these annual (or monthly) chores this year as well to better know what happens when in my garden, so when I have to hire out, I can make good use of someone’s time. In the meantime, I plan to do everything myself as long as I can. <3

So far, this is what I have, and they are have-tos:

Mulch. Order 15 cu yds
Thompson Water Seal tobacco fence

Shear boxwood
Wait a week, shake out the left-behind bits.
Mulch edges

Plant: potatoes
Sow parsley
Paint outbuilding roofs, if needed
Wash bottles on bottle tree

After last frost
Plant: Basil, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers
Sow: Cosmos, hibiscus tea, okra, zinnia

Clean coop

Snap Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ before July 4th.


Clean coop


Plant garlic
Add cranberries to containers
Re-lamp outdoor lights


Clean coop
Cut back old raspberry canes.

I wish you a happy and hopeful new year….


5 responses to “2016 New Year’s Day–My Annual I’m Gonnas”

  1. Rebecca says:


    I’m right there with you. About four years ago I decided I needed a daily retreat and a place to enjoy when I retire and that’s how Rebecca’s Retreat came to be.

    I still have a long way to go as I have almost an acre, but I have a garden design and am doing a little at a time.

    I’m happy you have your Haven!

  2. Carolyn Choi says:

    Very good plan Helen . As one 2 decades older I am aiming for a manageable forever garden as well. Although the preparation and planting I’m doing now would be considered a lot of work by some I’m grateful that I’m able to do it . Once I get my woodland garden established it will be practically maintenance free. I would’ve been done by now if we had great soil but you know that’s not the case and this alone takes a lot of effort. I’m hoping to be done by the time I hit a hundred.

  3. Carolyn Choi says:

    Correction on the above -I meant to say a decade not 2 older.

  4. HelenYoest says:

    Good for you, Carolyn!!!

  5. […] A year of gardening Gonnas from Helen Yoest. […]

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