Gardening with Confidence

 Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.

Holly Golightly (Breakfast At Tiffany’s)


When I first started blogging, Helen Yoest was kind enough to friend me on Facebook and introduce me to the Garden Bloggers Fling group.  I was unable to attend the Fling, but her extension of friendship has meant so much to me.   When I saw Helen had written a book, I knew I wanted to read it and then review it.  As Helen said to me recently, “My book was written for the new gardener and for those who want to add something new.”  I think that is the perfect description of Gardening with Confidence; a book for everyone.

When I started this garden, I had some vague ideas of what I wanted:  picket fence, gazebo, pond, patio and lots of cottage style plants.  And then as I learned more about gardening styles and gardening in general, I realized my initial structure was fine, but the details needed refinement.  I wish I had this book when I was planning 7 years ago, but we can always learn no matter where we are in our gardening experience   So I read the book quickly and then bookmarked many parts to go back through as needed.  As my style has changed I am glad to know there is a reference to help clarify some of those missing details.

I am linking in with Holley@Roses and Other Gardening Joys and her monthly Garden Book Review meme that takes place on the 20th of every month.


Gardening with Confidence


Paperback:  224 pages
Publisher: GWC Press; 1st edition (September 20, 2012)
Amazon Price: $24.95 (Paperback)







In A Few Words

The book is broken into 4 parts outlining 50 Ways to add style for personal creativity.  Part I goes through garden basics to get started.  Part II deals with different garden styles from bulbs, to formal, cottage, rock and vegetable gardens.  Part III goes into garden elements like focal points, sound, water, color, walls and much more.  Part IV is all about the garden environment such things as bees, butterflies, critters, seasons and sustainability.

To say this book is chock full of amazing ideas is an understatement.  And Helen’s style is easy going inviting you to take a peak, then spark your curiosity and clearly explain the idea so you will be comfortable enough to give it a try.



What I Liked

Although I have been gardening for many years, I know that I don’t know it all.  I am always looking for new ideas and ways to hone my skills.  While I originally was bookmarking areas of the this book to help with some ideas, I found I wanted to read it from cover to cover.  Each of the 50 ways is written so you get the concise information enough to get you started or add to what you are already doing.

For instance I plant lots of bulbs and had never considered there were 5 different kinds.  And there are important differences in these 5 types as well as the idea of planting bulbs for all seasons.  Helen talks all about these different bulbs in your garden clearly explaining each of them.  The added bonus is the section is about forcing bulbs.  I plan to try this again as I have never been successful forcing bulbs.

I absolutely adored the section delineating the difference between a cottage and a country gardens.  Thinking all along that my style was cottage, it was clear that it is definitely more country with the long beds and turf separating the beds.  While I have a few cottage style elements, my style has morphed into country with the rustic elements, native plants and whimsy.

There is so much to learn from the best way to place an arbor to garden edging and fragrance in the garden.  Each section I read left me pondering and making notes to tweak elements or add others.  It is Helen’s careful explanations though that draw me in.  It is as if she is with me as I tour my gardens giving me practical advice as if we were old friends on a walk about.  And she makes it sound easy building my confidence as I shake my head in agreement and acknowledge that yes indeed I did place that arbor correctly and I have fragrant flowers in special spots near the doorways and around the patio.   Then she takes it one step further pushing me to think of fragrance on all levels of my garden.  Something to ponder, plan for and aspire to since I love the smell of flowers throughout the garden and seasons.



Not So Much

The only downside to Helen’s book is that there is so much to consider that I suggest you pick a few things you are wondering about and go from there adding other elements later as time permits.  After all you might get into a gardening overload, but maybe that is not a bad thing really.



Final Thoughts

Helen is an accomplished gardener with so much experience that I am glad she has put it all into this handy guide to share with us.  Like an art teacher trying to bring out that “right eye”, the creative aspects you have hidden somewhere within, Helen guides us through the elements of the art of gardening allowing our unique style to show.  I would consider it an honor to have Helen visit to give me advice like a master teacher speaking to the student.  There is no right or wrong, but what works with your style.  And I love how she says that there are no stupid questions.  Just be willing to say you don’t know and ask for help if you want to build your confidence as a gardener.

I hope someday to meet this amazing woman in person.  Helen never flaunts all her know how, but brings you a cup of tea and a seat to watch and listen as you take stock of your space.  After reading this amazing book, I have a new found appreciation for my garden and what I have accomplished so far.  Thank you Helen.


Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers. ~ Charles W Eliot 1834

***I hope you enjoyed the pictures of some of my garden elements that I am most proud of.


Special Note:  Books reviewed here at Gardens Eye View were purchased by me and were not gifts from publishers.


Don’t forget that December 1st marks the next installment of Seasonal Celebrations/Garden Lessons Learned.  Click the link to learn more.  Beth@PlantPostings will be wrapping up this past season with lessons we have learned in our gardens, and I will be setting the stage for next season’s celebrations (winter up N and summer down S of the equator).

You do need to be a garden blogger to join in Season Celebrations.  Any blogger is welcome.  Write a poem, post your favorite pictures and prose that tells why you love this season.  What do you love to do in this upcoming season?  What holidays or rituals make it a wonderful season for you?  How does your garden grow and what favorite plants will be blooming?  I hope you will be joining us.  Just create a post and link in with both or one of us between December 1st and the 20th, and around the 21st we will reveal those lessons and celebrations.


Next up on the blog:     Monday will bring to light another cherished native plant as I continue my Simply the Best series.  And then it will be time for the Seasonal Celebrations meme starting on December 1st.  I hope you will join me.

I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month on the , at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my current post now.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2012.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

52 Replies to “Gardening with Confidence”

  1. Hi Donna, thank you so much for your kind words. I would love to visit with you in your garden, sipping tea, observing wildlife, talking about various garden elements. A garden built over time is truly a journey, one that starts with a spark of desire. I hope we get the opportunity to meet one day soon. H.

    1. Helen I hope to make it to a Fling one of these years soon so we can meet. But if you are ever in upstate NY area, I would love to have you visit 🙂 I am so glad you enjoyed the review of your wonderful book. It is a must have for every gardener.

    1. Janet I really love the Holly quote and it was perfect for this review. Helen’s book was so easy to read and gave me sparks of inspiration. I know you will enjoy it!

  2. I am not familiar with her book, but you did a fine review, one like Janet eluded, to perk interest. It is nice seeing the garden again through the seasons. Makes the long winter ahead seem like a short sprint.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the review and views Donna. I do love looking back and wondering what this garden season will bring as each one is so different.

  3. I don’t read garden books cover-to-cover. I review a chapter when in need of inspiration. My garden book reading often displays itself with piles of books open to various pages and a notebook nearby where I take notes.

    1. Mary I am much like you with garden books although when I review them I do like to read them a bit more thoroughly. I have piles of books all over with post its and well worn covers as I think about the new season.

  4. Sounds like a wonderful book. I especially like that she talks about different styles. I wonder if my garden is truly a different style than what I think it is! And the information about the bulbs is enticing to me, as I need to learn more about them. It sounds like there is a lot of helpful information in this book for designing a garden. Thanks so much for the review, and for joining in. This sounds like a book that I would use over and over, and is going on my wish list.

  5. Donna, Gardening with Confidence sounds like it really is a book for everyone, something that’s not easy to achieve. It’s good to hear that even a green thumb like you can find some helpful hints in a book geared to beginning gardeners. I’ll look for it in my local library.

  6. dear donna, very enjoyable, appealing book review. I love the way you related it to your garden experiences, and showed us how it is relevant even to experienced gardeners – who of course still always will have heaps to learn. I especially adore that first photo with the letterbox.

  7. Beautiful… love the heart formation toward the bottom of the first Hollyhock! If you have time tomorrow or perhaps Sunday or Monday, please stop by to visit the gratitude quilt and add words of gratitude of your own in the comment box below… it will be posted early Thursday morning, November 22nd. Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Great review, Donna! I’ve been eyeing Helen’s book, and now I will definitely put it on my holiday wish list. Thanks for the recommendation. Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. What a detailed and thoughtful review. This book will be enormously useful as I’m about to take over a garden that has been neglected of late.

  10. Gardening with confidence..I am confident about a few things I do in my life, but gardening is not one of them. I hadn’t even thought past wildlife to gardening with some sense of creativity…I think I need this book…. great review Donna…

    1. Michelle this book is perfect for you as I think it will give you some wonderful ideas as you continue on your gardening journey.

  11. Hi Donna, what a charming review. I recently read a set of book recommendations from Beth Chatto, famous for hew skill and experience as a plantswoman and creator of some truly iconic gardens. Writing of one the books she recommended, she said she couldn’t put it down, read it from cover to cover in 2 days scribbling notes to in up in her potting shed. As an acknowledged exprt with 60 years experience you could feel the relish she had for coming across new ideas. As you say, as gardeners we never stop learning, never get to the point where there is nothing for us to take away from meeting another gardener with more or different experience, and you are clearly inspired by Helen and her book, which is, in turn, inspirational.

    1. You have captured the essence of my review perfectly Janet…we have so much to learn from wonderful gardening friends which makes the experience so much more enjoyable.

  12. Thank you for reviewing this book and also for showing photos of your lovely garden. The book sounds very useful. I hope my library has a copy!

  13. I didn’t know Helen had written a book. I love the cover and her picture in that gorgeous pink sweater. Your review has definitely piqued my interest. We can always learn so much from each other, can’t we? And I love what you say about confidence. We owe a lot to someone who has built us up and given us the confidence we need. You’ve been one of those people for me, Donna. Hugs!

    1. Oh Grace I don’t know what to say…it certainly means a lot to me and I concur. We do owe a lot to those that inspire and build confidence in us. Hugs to you too!

  14. Your own garden looks very inviting with the charming white fence and arbor!

    I love the Eliot quote. This sounds like a great book. One thing I love to do almost as much as garden is to read an inspirational and resourceful garden book. My gardening library has already overflowed the bookshelves and has landed on table tops, chairs, and even the floor. But maybe I can make room for one more addition!

  15. I have been reading this book but am only partway through it. It has so much information packed into it! I am enjoying it so far. It has some really great ideas.

    1. Ha, I realized that my comment sounded exactly like your review! Well, it’s all true 🙂 I especially loved her tip for drawing in your structure on a photograph to get a better idea of how it will look in your garden. What a great idea!

      1. You are too funny and I am so glad your comment sounded like my review…it means we both love her book. I also loved her idea of drawing in your structure on the photo…just one of the many, many wonderful ideas.

        Can’t wait to go back over the flagged pages and take notes for spring projects 🙂

  16. Hi Donna, sorry I missed your post over the Thanksgiving weekend. Hope you had a nice holiday. Nice book review. Sounds like an interesting and informative book. I love your first photo. Is that an iris? I like your gazebo and white arbor, too.

    1. Hi Loredana. So nice of you to say so. Yes the first photo is a Japanese iris. They are stunning when they bloom in spring and make a great impact.

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