Garden Profile: Bonnie Helander’s Garden



Have a focal point - something of interest - outside your windows to enjoy throughout the seasons.

Spring is here and Fayette County gardens are bursting into bloom. Since we have so many talented gardeners and stunning gardens in our community, Fayette Woman is initiating a new segment, Garden Profiles. Periodically throughout the year, I am going to highlight a lovely garden in our area so you can enjoy the beauty and get tips from local gardeners on how to enhance your own outside space.

To kick off the series, I want to take you on a tour of my own Peachtree City garden. When my husband, Dan, and I purchased our home in 2004, the garden already had “good bones.” In fact, I fell in love with the home when I first opened the front door and could see through the patio doors to the beautiful backyard garden.

The focal point of the back garden is the lovely ornamental Koi pond and waterfall with an Asian flair. Two colorful 

The main feature in my garden is the Koi pond, filled with water lilies and iris and surrounded by Japanese maples, azaleas, juniper and variegated ivy.

Japanese maples and vivid pink azaleas frame the pond. Dan and I worked to enhance the space by replanting the shade beds with ferns, Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica) and Lenten rose (Helleborus). We added new pathways and a vine-covered arbor that beckon people to the upper garden, filled with azaleas and hydrangeas. Here you will find an eclectic collection of painted chairs and other pieces of “garden junk” from the family farm. An open lawn area invites a game of badminton or croquet. Dan loves to build things and constructed a handy two-bin compost structure and a potting bench for me to pot up all my containers.

In the front sunny area, you will find a mass planting of ‘Knock Out ®’ roses, dwarf crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia ‘GAMAD I’ Cherry Dazzle®) and butterfly bushes. I have a real challenge in the front yard because three large river birch trees (Betula nigra) have shaded out my grass area, leaving exposed tree roots on the surface and ugly bare ground. We are mulching this area and adding some dwarf loropetalum shrubs. Although I love the look of the river birch trees in the winter with their peeling cinnamon bark, I dislike these high-maintenance trees the rest of the year. They are messy – dropping small limbs in a slight breeze and shedding leaves all summer in the heat. I would recommend selecting another tree if you are thinking about the river birch or choosing the ‘Dura-Heat’ or ‘Heritage’ varieties that do better in our hot summers.

Dan and I added an arbor and planted vines of vinca and jasmine to frame the view to the upper garden.

When I look outside from each of my home’s windows, I want to have something of interest to view in the garden. Focal points are visual elements that allow the eye to rest and savor the scene. A focal point can be a specimen plant with interesting shape, color or texture; a garden bench, a birdhouse, an interesting sculpture or anything you like. Look outside your own windows and imagine what you can add to make your garden more enjoyable.

If you know of an amazing garden in our area or would like to feature your own garden, please email me with contact information:




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