Gracias from the Grump

July 22, 2009 | By | Comments (23)

Helenyoest I know it goes against my nature and reputation, but the Grump would like to take a moment to thank some fine people for showing him their gardens during my recent trip to North Carolina.

First, I’d like to thank garden scout/designer/promoter/guru Helen Yoest, who authors the excellent blog, Gardening With Confidence. Helen showed me some very nice gardens in the Raleigh-Cary area, all for the price of lunch and a bottle of wine. Believe me. I got the better of the deal. She has a great garden of her own and can tell you everything you ought to be doing in your garden and when. I ripped off her photo from her blog. If you don’t like it, Helen, feel free to sue.

One garden Helen showed me was Rose Cottage, the home of Jim and Sharon Bright. Boy, do these people work! They’re meticulous, too — I think Jim edges the grass with a laser. They have a narrow, deep lot in an older section of Raleigh that’s just loaded with personality and charm. Here‘s a shot of the rear garden looking back towards the house.


They’ve designed this section around a set of brick walks and parterres with a gazing ball (foreground) and fountain (background) as focal points. ‘Wave’ petunias, fanflower (Scaevola), angelonia, phlox, and roses are just a few of the flowering plants that provide knockout color. What’s neat about what they’ve done is combining the freedom of a cottage garden planting with the formality of the parterres.


Here’s a shot looking out from the house. Pretty nice, huh? As you can see, the neighbors aren’t far away, but the fence and plantings give lots of privacy.

Walk past the arbor on the left and you come to this — a beautiful, little vegetable garden and potting shed. Inside the shed, there’s not a molecule out of place. Jim and Sharon are better organized than the UAW.


Rose Cottage is going to be on garden tours this fall, many of which Helen organizes. So if you’re in Raleigh at the right time and want to see it, check her blog for info. As for you other garden writers who will want to do stories on it — ha ha, Southern Living has already photographed it! Eat our mulch!

Additional Thanks


The Grump extends his deepest appreciation to Jere Stevens in Cary, who helped us photograph a neighbor’s garden up the street. She also showed us her wonderful garden, pictured above. As Arnold would say, “I”ll be back.”

Mycartoon2 Finally, a big shout-out to fellow blogger Freda Cameron of Defining Your Home Garden. Her garden, which we’ll feature in SL next year, is designed around colorful plants that deer won’t eat. One big winner — Agastache, also known as anise hyssop. There were lots of different kinds and colors in full bloom when we were there. Why don’t I show them to you now? Because I’m in danger of becoming too nice and I just can’t let that happen.


  1. Elaine Crow

    Are you my cousin Freda Hahn? If so I would love to hear from you. Elaine in Ohio

    April 10, 2010 at 11:52 pm
  2. David in Greensboro

    You know, I went to high school with Jim & Sharon’s daughter-in-law…in the South, it doesn’t take too long to find a connection to anyone.

    July 24, 2009 at 11:33 pm
  3. KatLuvsShoes

    Wow. And I was proud of what I have accomplished. Still, I have managed to get a completely organic mini herb and vegetable garden going. This guide was a major help.

    July 24, 2009 at 4:29 pm
  4. Grumpy Gardener

    Thanks again, everybody. The best part of my job is seeing great gardens and meeting interesting people.

    July 24, 2009 at 11:56 am
  5. Pam/Digging

    I’ve been reading Freda Cameron’s blog and enjoying her tips about gardening with deer for some time. Let us know when “her” issue of S.L. comes out.

    July 24, 2009 at 4:20 am
  6. Anna/Flowergardengirl

    This is all so pitiful. Poor Helen has no social skills. Seriously–she is not ever at a loss for words or gardens. I met Helen in person recently and was so impressed with her knowledge and personality. She’s the kind of person you want to visit often and each time feel as though you’d like to know more.
    Beautiful pictures and wonderful post of these gardens. Grumpy you have a terrible job and I feel badly for you. Especially having to visit Helen and Cameron.
    Cameron is another good NC buddy and I hope to meet up with her one day. I know she’s got lots of Agastache and other deer resistant goodies. She’s put a ton of work in to keeping the deer confused.
    Grumpy love your style of writing and enjoy stopping by often.
    And of course–I’ve been subscribing to Southern Living all my 30 married years. My grandma subscribed too and I would consider it a sin not to have at least 3 years worth of SL in just about every room of my house–really.

    July 23, 2009 at 10:27 pm
  7. Jean

    Beautiful gardens! I enjoy viewing other’s gardens and how each individual gardener sees beauty in the different flowers and how they are placed in their garden. Lucky grump getting to view all these!

    July 23, 2009 at 12:09 pm
  8. Seasonal Wisdom

    Lovely garden and interesting blog post.
    Helen Yoest is a real pro, so I’m not surprised she arranged such a great garden tour.
    Incidentally, I love the way those cottage garden flowers are arranged in the formal raised beds… Teresa

    July 22, 2009 at 8:10 pm
  9. Robin Ripley

    Oh, and I’m most anxious to meet Helen at GWA. Must pick her very green brain. A lot!

    July 22, 2009 at 8:01 pm
  10. Robin Ripley

    I am absolutely salivating over this garden. I would live in a hut to be able to walk outside and drink my coffee among the flowers.
    Totally humbled gardener,

    July 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm
  11. Laura Livengood Schaub (InterLeafer)

    Helen is one of the people I’m looking forward to meeting most when I come to Raleigh in September; she’s a rock star and I’m a fan!

    July 22, 2009 at 7:44 pm
  12. Dave

    Your garden is beautiful! Vibrant with color all around.
    It’s very cool that you’ll be featured in SL, I’ll be looking for it!
    Nice post Grumpy!

    July 22, 2009 at 7:25 pm
  13. Susan aka Miss R.

    Helen Yoest is not only a great gardener, writer and photographer, she’s downright generous to everyone. It’s no wonder that she was so willing to share her Raleigh with you. No reason to be grumpy with Helen.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm
  14. Helen Yoest @ Gardening With Confidence

    I shall make no apology for knowing a great garden when I see them! I just happen to get around a lot, as well.
    The Brights garden will be open for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour, September 19/20, As will my humble garden, Helen’s Haven. Jere Steven’s garden was open for the GC tour last year and will open again in 2010.
    As it happens, I already have hats in many sizes…little tiny ones for when I have to talk about astrophysics, medium ones when I discuss the internal combustion engine, and rather large ones when I’m showing off area gardens. As for my blog, I’m just glad it brings pleasure to more people than me.
    …now where’s my tee shirt with the giant red letter “H”?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm
  15. Craig Smith

    Sorry I missed you when you were in North Carolina. It would have been great to give you the warm reception you deserve. Hopefully I’ll see you soon.

    July 22, 2009 at 3:56 pm
  16. Grumpy Gardener aka His Excellency

    Thanks for the comments, everybody. Helen thanks you too, I’m sure. She’d write back herself, but right now she’s being fitted for a bigger hat.

    July 22, 2009 at 3:31 pm
  17. Billy Goodnick

    Your Grumpiness: This is my first time at your blog and this article is a delight. Love your writing style (I’m a bit of a curmudgeon myself) and you are most astute to have Helen as your guide.
    I’m a big fan of her own blog and am a bit envious of your proximity to her. But I’ll be in Raleigh for the Garden Writers Assoc. annual confab and will finally get to see this beautiful part of the country and meet the Divine Ms. Y for real.
    Lovely gardens, great piece. thanks

    July 22, 2009 at 3:14 pm
  18. susan morrison (garden chick)

    As a fan of Helen’s blog, I’m not surprised she found such photo worthy gardens for you. The Rose Cottage is a gem! I love posts like this that give me inspiration for my own garden.

    July 22, 2009 at 1:37 pm
  19. joey

    What a lucky guy … no wonder you’re so ‘nice’ 🙂

    July 22, 2009 at 12:46 pm
  20. Joe Lamp’l

    Great post Steve. But hey, when you’ve got Helen doing the recon, how hard can it be. You guys make for a great combination. After seeing these shots, I’m even more excited than ever to get to Raleigh in a couple months. Thanks for the post.

    July 22, 2009 at 12:38 pm
  21. Shawna Coronado

    Without a doubt – Helen Yoest knows her gardens – so happy to see her here on “The Grump”.
    Keep up the absolutely fabulous work all!
    Shawna Coronado

    July 22, 2009 at 11:59 am
  22. jen

    congratulations Cameron, I just recently found your blog and adore it, I’m in the durham/chapel hill area myself, so its a huge source of inspiration and great ideas. I wish you had more pictures from your tour, Grump!

    July 22, 2009 at 10:22 am
  23. Cameron (Defining Your Home Garden)

    Thanks for the shout-out! It was a fun afternoon. I don’t want to mess with your Grumpy label by telling folks that you’re nice. LOL

    July 22, 2009 at 9:35 am

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