Bonnie Helander began her love of gardening while living and working in San Diego. After retirement, she moved back home to Georgia with husband, Dan, and now resides and gardens in Peachtree City (Zone 8a) where she is a member of the Peachtree City Garden Club. Bonnie is the gardening writer and blogger for Fayette Woman magazine and also blogs and writes for Georgia Gardening Magazine. Besides gardening, Bonnie loves nature and hiking and is a proud graduate of the University of Georgia and avid supporter of the Bulldog nation.


Spruce Up Your Entrance for Spring!
by Bonnie Helander - posted 02/19/13

Spring is (almost) in the air and it’s time to refresh your outside space. Whether you are trying to sell your house or just want to make your front landscape more attractive, there are easy steps you can take right now to enhance your curb appeal. If you don’t know where to start or are just overwhelmed by all that needs to be done – tackle one thing and focus on the entrance to your home.

Why not paint your front door an eye-catching color that complements your house? Then hang a wreath that coordinates with the paint color and reflects your personal style. Give the entrance more prominence by placing two large containers of plants on either side of the door. If you have a front porch or a set of stairs leading to the front entrance, mass several pots of plants together, but stick with a scheme of just two or three colors.

Update your hardware such as the door knob, door knocker, house numbers, mailbox and exterior lighting. For a more contemporary look, choose brushed nickel hardware and for a more traditional look, choose black or bronze. Add inexpensive solar lights to illuminate the path to your front door. Purchase a fresh welcome mat and power wash mildew stains from the driveway and sidewalk leading up to your entrance.

Plant colorful annuals and flowering and fragrant perennials near your entrance for added impact. Even one area of color adds enormous curb appeal.

Cheerful yellow front door with hanging pots of yellow flowers and an annual bed out front adds great curb appeal.

Take some time today to walk around your front yard and assess what needs to be done. Write up a priority list and get started! Soon you will be rewarded with curb appeal that will be the envy of your neighbors!

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Garden Inspiration
by Bonnie Helander - posted 01/05/13

During a visit to Orlando over the holidays to watch my Georgia Bulldogs beat up on Nebraska, Dan and I visited the Harry P. Leu Gardens. You can stroll through 50 acres of gardens that feature over 40 different plant collections, including the largest camellia collection (over 200 varieties) in Eastern North America.  

While holiday tourists were fighting the crowds at all of Orlando’s theme parks, we enjoyed a tranquil and inspiring visit at Leu Gardens and brought back some great ideas to incorporate into our own outside space.

At the Enabling Garden, I saw some beautiful examples of planting in raised beds. Those in wheel chairs or anyone who just prefers to stand instead of bending over can create designs in raised platforms. The raised beds can be wood or you can get fancy with brick or cement. Here are a few ideas that I really liked:

Gorgeous raised bed in brick makes it a focal point. The planting bed is filled with colorful annuals and perennials.


A whole bed of cactus!


This bed is filled with herbs, succulents, annuals and interesting rocks.


This bed has a Japanese flair with rocks, juniper and grasses.

I love gardening in containers. Wherever you have a bare spot or need a pop of color or a focal point, a container does the trick. The Leu Gardens were filled with containers in the sun and shade.  Enjoy:

Nothing is more appealing than a collection of terracotta pots!


Notice the pot feet!


This "face" container sits among a colorful bed of annuals.


Shade containers were arranged in a gazebo area.


Classic formal container filled with variegated ivy and fern.


Creative hanging basket


Succulents sitting on a pedestal - every garden needs a few succulents for interest and whimsy.


Get inspired this winter by visiting a public garden in your area!

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Get in the Holiday Spirit at Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Light Festival
by Bonnie Helander - posted 11/27/12

Gardeners in the Atlanta area will want to start a new holiday tradition and bring the whole family to Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Garden Lights – Holiday Nights. Here you can wander through a 30-acre wonderland of over a million lights. The light show runs through January 5th and will get more crowded as we get closer to Christmas.

Recently my daughter and I enjoyed the light show on an off-peak Monday evening. We arrived right at 5:00 p.m. when the gates opened so we could view the garden at dusk and watch as the light display grew in brilliance as dark settled on the city. Bring your camera for some amazing shots of the Atlanta skyline framing the light display.

Atlanta skyline seen from the garden.

Along the winding pathways, you’ll enjoy small groups of holiday carolers, fire pits where you can roast marshmallows and model trains that will delight the kids. The Great Lawn is a focal point featuring “Orchestral Orbs” – a light show choreographed to music. Don’t miss the stunning poinsettia tree in the conservatory. When it’s time for a hot chocolate or a light meal, stop at the café for a nice selection of soup and sandwiches. For more information, go to Atlanta Botanical Garden .

Orchestral Orbs on the Great Lawn

Cheerful flowers at the edible garden

Topiary Display in the conservatory

Stunning Poinsettia Tree with Orchids


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