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Mary’s North Carolina Garden – FineGardening


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Today we are going to Durham, North Carolina to visit Mary Zesk Thigpen.

Here are some photos of my gardens and my garden. Most of them come from the shadow gardens and the side courtyard, depending on the season.

I take pride in using a push mower and mowing my own lawn which drives my husband crazy every time the neighbors ask why he is not allowed to mow!

I hope you like these photos. I am not a photographer; I just love playing on the farm as a hobby and as a de-stressor!

This is Mary’s most popular garden photo to date this spring: a really massive snowball viburnum (Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile’, Zones 3–8), laden with flowers, around which are hidden all kinds of special plants.

Garden potting stationMary’s husband Ryan is an engineer and built the potting soil as a birthday present last February! I’m so jealous. What a fantastic workspace! Perhaps every gardener needs an engineer as a partner.

lots of colorful foliage and early spring blossomsThe focus is on the colorful Ajuga (Ajuga reptans, zones 3–10, probably the ‘Burgund Glow’ variety) with blue flowers above the colorful foliage.

Table tennis under a gazeboA gazebo in the garden is beautiful and not that unusual, but take a closer look – it looks like a ping pong table. What a great idea! There is something for everyone in this garden.

dappled sunlight on a shady gardenDramatic sunlight over the shady garden.

large mowed lawn with garden chairs in the back cornerThere’s something so calming about a piece of pristine green. I can’t believe Mary mows it all with a push mower! It’s a workout, no doubt a well-deserved break in one of those inviting garden chairs.

light pink rhododendron flowersThis beautiful rhododendron appears to be Rhododendron catawbiense, native to the southeastern United States, making it a natural choice for a garden in North Carolina.

Garden bed surrounded by lawn and tall treesThere’s something so calming about a garden surrounded by tall trees.

HelleboresHellebores (Helleborus hybrid, zones 5–9) with their iconic early spring blooms.

Peach climbing roseA breathtaking climbing rose looks like the classic climbing rose variety ‘Joseph’s Coat’.

Do you have a garden that you want to share?

Do you have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a specific collection of plants that you love, or a beautiful garden that you got to visit!

Submit 5-10 photos to for submission [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you have learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants or funny stories from your garden.

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Robert Dunfee