About Helen’s Haven, my Forever Garden

Posted by on August 4, 2010


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.

The last five years, I’ve slowly been renovating my garden to be a Forever Garden.  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 concept in a book. I hope it works out, b/c The Forever Garden was what I’ve envisioned writing my entire writing career. 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

These last five years and 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, and I took my time to make it right. The last two 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 considerable. One thing I’m working on now, is the annual chores need to keep my garden looking mighty fine. So many efficiencies have been put in place, that my weekly maintenance is so manageable, I’m 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 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

Gardening from her 1/2 acre, wildlife habitat, Helen’s Haven, located in Raleigh, NC, many garden muses are born…


Sustainable Raleigh

2015 City of Raleigh Environmental Award

The drought of 2007 had Helen Yoest rethinking her garden design. Although always organic, Helen wanted her garden, which she calls Helen’s Haven, to be fully sustainable—a garden that was beautiful but one that could also sustain itself with minimal intervention. Using water-wise design principles and being pesticide free, Helen’s garden is a wildlife habitat featuring native host and nectar plants for the butterflies, nectar and pollen flowers for the bees, and fruit and berries for the birds.
Helen’s Haven is a sustainable, wildlife habitat, created to attract and feed birds, bees, butterflies and for the enjoyment of friends, family, and visitors to educate, enjoy, and to understand we are the earth’s caretakers, so let’s take care.



National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat, #58675
Monarch Watch Certificate of Appreciation, #02444
NABA Certified Butterfly Garden, #348
NWF Bird Friendly Habitat, #121,572
North Carolina Native Plant Society, #29
The Butterfly Highway is a program of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.
Pollinator Partnership Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
I took the pledge at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to Bring Back the Pollinators.

Firefly Watch

Helen’s Haven is open to garden clubs, photographers, horticultural societies, and environmental groups for educational purposes.  Just email me at helen@gardeningwithconfidence.com to set up a visit.

2016 First annual Bee Better tour.

2016 Fundraiser for the JC Raulston Arboretum.

2014 First annual #Hothorties in Helen’s Haven event.

2013 Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Fall Tour

2013 JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteers Spring Tour

2012 Raleigh Newcomer’s Group

2011 JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteers Fall Tour

2010 JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteers Fall Tour

2010 Sarah P. Duke Gardens Private Tour

2010 Raleigh Little Theatre’s Big Garden Tour – Private VIP tour


2009 Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour

2009 Garden Writers Association

2009 Junior 4-H Club

2008 Volunteers of the JC Raulston Arboretum Tour

2007 Volunteers of the JC Raulston Arboretum Tour

2006 Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour

2006 Raleigh Garden Club, horticultural group tour.


Feature story in the News & Observer, October 25, 2014 on gardening for wildlife year round.

A tiny mention in Forbes.com 

Steve Bender, Southern Living Magazine

Erica Glasener’s Garden Design

News Observer

Several blog posts


Metro Magazine

Triangle Gardener

Pam Penick’s blog, Digging

Entwined Life

Upcoming features in:
Carolina Gardener

2009 Photographed for Meredith Corporation (Better Homes and Gardens, Country Gardens)

Here is a little spotlight of Helen’s Haven on My Carolina Today NBC – 17 show. We talk about creating a wildlife habitat in the backyard. I hope the National Wildlife Federation will forgive me for saying to wrong address to their great organization. It is NWF.org


Writing a Garden’s Mission Statement and Creating a Garden Name