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.


My Love Affair with Fall
by Bonnie Helander - posted 11/13/12

Autumn really is the best season of the year (at least until spring!) My garden continues to get messier and there is much to do to keep ahead of the falling leaves. Right now the red maple off my back patio is shedding profusely and more leaves drop as fast as I sweep them off the deck!  My pond is filling up with leaves again as well. I’ve tried a net but a heron has been nosing around and I am worried it will get caught in the net. So I don my waders and get in the pond at least once a week to net out the leaves. It's getting cold in there!

I do love the colors of the season – the brilliant reds and oranges and more subtle yellows, browns and mauves.  Here are few more photos of my November fall garden…

My pond is surrounded by color - the Japanese maples are turning a brilliant red!


This tropical plumeria that I have in a pot on my back patio is still blooming! I'll need to bring it into the garage soon.


I love the fading flowers of the hydrangea paniculata and the reddish leaves of the snowball viburnum.


This mophead hydrangea turns a lovely mauve in the fall.


Ornamental grasses like pampas grass look so stately in the fall.


It's a pleasure to notice the brilliant and subtle beauty of the garden in the fall. Take a moment to enjoy your autumn garden...and then get back to raking!

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Autumn…the Best Season of the Year!
by Bonnie Helander - posted 10/11/12

Each year in October when the weather starts to cool, I decide that fall really is the best season of the year. The air is crisp, the leaves are turning rich colors and the annoying bugs are mostly gone.  It is a great time to be out in the garden (or at a college football game)!


I am planning some major projects for the coming weeks. My front yard (which really is more a “yard” than a garden) needs some real attention. Three river birch trees are shading out the grass and I have big dirt patches. I want to mulch the entire area and add more shrubs. But I need to think about this more.

Right now I am enjoying my “real” garden in the back of my house.  I’ll share some photos with you of how my garden looks in autumn before the leaves start to fall profusely and take over the place!  Pretty soon I will need to net the pond and start raking leaves into my compost bins. Before you know it, winter will be here and I’ll be thinking about my new “favorite season” – spring!  But for now –it’s nice to enjoy the wonder of autumn.


Fall containers on my back deck

My succulent "head" is coming along nicely!

My pond is still looking good but I'll have to net it in the weeks ahead before the leaves start to fall.

Vines are starting to fill around the rocks that hide my pond filters.

Leaves starting to fall in the upper garden. Fall is here!

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More Sizzling Succulents
by Bonnie Helander - posted 09/18/12

It seems that the whole country is crazy for cactus and sizzling succulents! Recently Dan and I visited the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis on our way to see the Georgia Bulldogs beat up on the Missouri Tigers in Missouri’s first SEC match-up.  Welcome to the SEC!  By the way, the fans in Columbia were cordial and very welcoming. We sure enjoyed our time in Missouri, especially since the Dawgs came away with a victory.

The visit to the botanical gardens was a real highlight of our trip. I was surprised to see how the garden featured so many different succulents in the design schemes. I think of the long, cold winters in the Midwest as a reason to avoid those heat-loving plants but they take center stage at the Linnean House - the oldest, continuously operating public greenhouse west of the Mississippi and housed at the botanical garden. The Victorian Garden also had some wonderful succulent displays. I got so many ideas on using succulents in my garden. Enjoy!

Collection of succulents at the Linnean House, including spurge, Pachypodium and Adromischus


A lovely variety including Agave (century plant)


Euphorbia pillansii


Euphorbia characias


A gorgeous sphere of succulents on a pedestal at the Victorian Garden - great focal point!


A garden bed designed completely with small succulents at the Victorian Garden.


Another succulent bed idea.  I might try this in a sunny spot!

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