Garden Books

Gardening with Confidence: 50 Ways to Add Style for Personal Creativity By Helen Yoest

Fall and winter are the best seasons to study the garden surrounding your home. The potted tropical plants’ striking colors are tucked inside the warmth of your house. The annuals have disappeared with frost, and most perennials hide in dormancy. Browned vines sway in the chilly breeze. The bare bones of your garden are visible.

As you observe the yard, do the shaped beds, art ornaments, and remaining plants appeal to you? What do you need to change to create a more pleasing atmosphere for you and for your family? Gardening with Confidence (GWC Press) is an excellent source of inspiration and information to design a space that fulfills your gardening aspirations.

The author, Helen Yoest, is a stylist, garden coach and a writer who resides in Raleigh. The easy-to-read combination of factual and conversational writing in this book reflects her wide experience as an author. The many publications in which her articles have appeared include County Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, The Christian Science Monitor and Fine Gardening.

Yoest describes the book’s purpose as giving “insight on the basics of adding and arranging the components of your garden” and developing “a design with your signature.” According to Yoest, the most important step of starting or of changing a garden is a plan. She emphasizes that matching the style of your home to the appropriate garden type is the first step in designing.  Garden types, such as formal and herb, are discussed with information on the plants included in each.

She suggests using photos of your yard on which to sketch planting beds and structures that you desire. This offers a mapped source from which to track the changes as you complete them.

Once the garden type is chosen, adding elements or garden accessories is the next step. This was the most helpful section to my garden. Here I learned the proportions necessary to improve the appearance of the flowerbed surrounding my mailbox and the plants surrounding my house’s foundation. I had made them too small. Choices of bed edging, arbors, trellises, paths, fences, gates, colors, garden art, fountains, and ponds are some of the many subjects discussed to improve a garden’s appearance.

In the last portion of the book, Yoest presents ways to control the garden’s environmental impact. Such topics as ways to be sustainable and waterwise and how to attract wildlife and control uninvited animals are suggested here.

Yoest’s book provides information to interest both beginning and experienced gardeners. In a friendly style, she addresses the reader casually, including tales of her own mistakes and successes with gardening.    Yoest encourages all gardeners to work toward creating a beautiful garden that satisfies their own needs. Emphasizing the ease with which a personal garden can be developed, she concludes that gardening “confidence comes from faith in yourself to get out and dig.”

Christine Thomson is a Raleigh gardener obsessed with plants. She is a volunteer at the Raulston Arboretum and fills her spare time reading books, especially volumes about vegetation.

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