Harriet Layton Bellerjeau, age 76, passed away peacefully in her home on the morning of May 1. She was surrounded by family, birdsong, and sunshine in her glorious garden.
Born to William Young Bellerjeau and Ysabel Welanetz Bellerjeau in Plainfield, N.J., on Aug. 24, 1940, she earned her first degree in medical technology at the Training School for Nurses in Plainfield, an undergraduate degree in botany and zoology from Castleton State College in Vermont, and years later a graduate degree in landscape architecture from the College of Design at North Carolina State University. Her master’s degree was the formalization and celebration of years she had spent in Vermont gardening, writing, growing and putting by food, and creating the Carver Gate Farm plant nursery.
Bellerjeau and her daughters moved to Raleigh, N.C., in 1980. After graduating from the College of Design she worked with local landscape architects, the Raleigh Housing Authority, and Niche Gardens. For 20 years thereafter she maintained her own design practice, creating gardens for a multitude of clients across the Triangle and beyond. Every garden she touched remembers her. Making the world a better, more whole place through plants and gardens was her life’s work, with which her eyes sparkled.
Bellerjeau’s many activities, including volunteering, were focused on plants, gardens and preserving the environment. Most recently she served on the master planning committee of the JC Raulston Arboretum. She also enjoyed a monthly book club and her group called the Seekers, and above all she was an artist and poet. In recent years she explored and created exquisite art books and was a participating exhibitor at both the Brandon Arts Guild and Raleigh Arts.
She spent much of her life between Vermont and Raleigh. Bellerjeau deeply loved Vermont. The mountains, the fields, the birch trees drew her there every year. The Brandon Gap seen from the old family farm was her favorite view on earth. Since childhood she had vacationed and lived on the cherished farm. In 2014 the farm was sold. That, said Bellerjeau, was the saddest moment of her life.
Her love of travel began at an early age, with epic road trips not only to Vermont, but across the country and to Europe. She visited her friends and family often by train or car. She was happy to go solo or in groups. Packing the car precisely was a Bellerjeau family tradition.
She was softly spiritual, deeply connected with the way we belong to the earth through light and love. Nothing was more important to her than perceiving the divine in all things, through love and happiness. She belonged to Unity of the Triangle, and was a former prayer chaplain.
Family surviving her are: her two daughters Robin Randall Barrows with her husband Joseph W Butters of Raleigh, and Michelle Krystyn Bellerjeau of Burlington, Vt.; her two brothers, William Randall Bellerjeau of Altamont, N.Y., and Paul Young Bellerjeau of Watsonville, Calif.; her many dear cousins, including Peter and Barbara Welanetz, Hannah and John Ineson, Susan Chang, Rick and Michel-Ann Bellerjeau, Carol and Dave Caffery, Roy and Marilyn Layton, Marion and Richard Lloyd, Beth Knauer, Nancy Layton McBride, and Dorothy Knauer. She was devoted to her nieces and nephews. She had an extensive tribe, an extended family through multitudes of friends. She was an epic correspondent, writing letters nearly every day. Postcard racks were left empty wherever she traveled. Her dedication to her far-reaching circles was a great joy.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 20 at 2 p.m. at Unity of the Triangle, 5570 Munford Road, Raleigh, N.C. Following the service, the family will receive friends and family in the fellowship hall for a time of celebration of Harriet Bellerjeau’s enormous life. A summer celebration will be held in Brandon, Vt. All are invited to visit her beloved town, to feel her spirit in her favorite landscape.
Memorial donations in lieu of flowers would be welcomed to a foundation dedicated to her love of design, art, nature and the preservation of all things good. Her foundation will be created to support charities and organizations such as the JC Raulston Arboretum, North Carolina State University Landscape Architecture and Horticulture program scholarships, as well as others.
Condolences may be shared at cremationsocietync.com.