Garden Photo of the Day

Gardening vs Landscaping

Front walk with agastache vinca abelia

Nicole King's Chapel Hill, NC garden defines the distinction between gardening and landscaping! Kudo's creating and maintaining such a lovely garden with such a busy schedule!

"I garden in Chapel Hill, NC (zone 7b) on less than an acre that just 4 years ago was an undeveloped subdivision lot.  Since our neighborhood is heavily populated by deer and our soil is clay, each growing season has been a learning experience.

Since the backyard is surrounded by mature oak trees that shade the area and take up a lot of the moisture, I’ve taken advantage of sunnier locations outside their reach by adding a 75-ft long berm along the street and by gardening on my driveway.  The driveway serves as both my ‘holding area’ for new arrivals (I always have at least a dozen plants in nursery pots waiting for their spots) and as my container gardening area.  I build new container combinations throughout the seasons to add color.  This Spring, I also added a livestock tank to the driveway so that I could try some pond plants (papyrus, canna, elephant ear, water lily).  Since I treat the water to remove chlorine, I’m hoping for some tadpoles.

My largest delight this year has been watching the wildlife that the agastache, butterfly bushes, pye weed, and water sources bring on a daily basis – tree frogs, hummingbirds, hummingbird moths, swallowtail butterflies, and lots and lots of bees.  With three kids and a full time job, some of the planting and watering gets done by moonlight.  But when someone refers to my yard as a garden instead of a landscape, I know I’m doing something right!"

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Butterflies on Little Joe Pye Weed

Clematis on Railing

Driveway pond

Frog on Lantana Pot

Grasses and Catmint

Iris Caesars Brother

Lantana Pot

Morning Glory

Plumbago Pot

Statue with Jason Bluebeard

View Comments


  1. katieerb 09/03/2015

    What a beautiful space, I love the garden statue,she adds just the right touch.

  2. Vespasian 09/03/2015

    What an absolutely lovely garden, I really admire all your hard work and the colours are so vibrant. I too love your girl in a dress, is she also a birdbath? I would love to see some long shots of your garden to get a sense of the perspective. We too have mostly clay in our area and I have found it grows well when amalgamated with some good topsoil, holds moisture well. More pictures please!

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/03/2015

    Congratulations, Nicole, you definitely have beautiful and charming garden areas rather than just nicely done landscaping. Your plant combinations are delightful and there is so much appealing personality in your choices of ornamentation. Your standing lady is pure enchantment and I love the "victorian" whimsy of the birdhouse near the morning glory.

  4. pegmccann 09/03/2015

    I like your attitude! Completely agree that attracting wildlife adds lots of enjoyment to a garden. Thank you for sending the photos and story.

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/03/2015

    Nicole, I am completely wowed by the four female tiger swallowtails you caught at one time on the Joe Pye weed. So great attracting wildlife that is not destructive (like the deer!). I've never seen a livestock tank so small. It is perfect there between the chairs, and the plants with which you've filled it are absolute perfection!

  6. greengenes 09/03/2015

    Watering by moonlight would be so fun in your gardens, Nicole! Nicely put together and I love the blue pots. Great pop of colors throughout! Wonderful to see the swallowtails and frogs. Do your three children enjoy this as much as you? For sure you are doing so much right! Lovely! Thanks for sharing!

  7. soilsister8 09/03/2015

    Superb work. When you send in photos again (hopefully!), please show us your berm. How high is it? And also a full shot of the driveway from the road. I'd love to see the bones of your gardening area and am wondering if your car can use the driveway?

    1. user-5257750 09/03/2015

      Thanks for the feedback. The berm is a work in progress in regard to plants. I use it to test which perennials are not deer food, so it is very mix-n-match. It also has green ligustrums and blue conifers and three Nellie Stevens hollies along the top (top is just 2-3 ft higher than grade). I recently bought nine 3g Sunshine Ligustrums (Southern Living Collection) to unify it. I'm thinking about each spring a front row all the way down the 75 ft length of Angelonia because it has proven deer resistant. Re: the driveway, the pond is off to the side where the ARB thought we'd need to back up, but we just back into the street (end of the subdivision, so not busy) and we have no trouble with plants or ponds interfering with access to the three-car garage. But give me a few years, you never know.

  8. GrannyMay 09/03/2015

    Nicole, I love every single thing you have done in your garden, especially that livestock tank pond! And your photos are terrific!

  9. User avater
    gringopeligroso 09/03/2015

    Of all the wonderful views which i've enjoyed over the past couple of years on this post, your vision and execution most closely matches my own...albeit that I'm a couple of years behind you in goals!! Olde time faves, Morning Glories, Conifers, Bulbs, Aquatics, Grasses, Art, etc, etc!! Were we to be neighbours, passersby would probably not be able to tell where one garden ended and the other started!!Not sure you'll take that comment as a compliment or an insult, but you make me feel a little less lonely out here on the design fringe!!
    I am currently moving from a Zone 7 to a Zone 6 garden and this "slight change" in perspective has provided more challenges than one can imagine. (Back down onto the learning curve!!!) While my NEW garden is still in it's struggling infancy, your photos give me inspiration in that I'm on the right path and direction as far as to keep going along said trail!!
    Also: I SO relate to your staging area with the next treasures awaiting placement into the perfect site and "neighbourhood." In fact, too often my new acquisitions stay TOO long in the landing zone, and I find I must "bump" them up into larger nursery containers to keep them thriving until I can eventually get around to plugging them into their newly cleared positions!

    1. user-5257750 09/03/2015

      Thanks. My staging area has 5 spirea and 6 butterfly bushes I picked up at Walmart, along with some red dianthus and Sombrero orange coneflowers from Home Depot. The bees don't care if they are on my driveway, as long as I water daily! Good luck with your zone 6 transition. I wish I had a gardening neighbor; mine wanted to plant 4 Leyland's on the property line and I almost had a cow. She compromised with Junipers.

  10. GrannyCC 09/03/2015

    Nicole what a beautiful garden. Love all your combinations of plants and colours. You sound like a very busy lady and I admire all the hard work you do. You can see you love your garden.

  11. Sheila_Schultz 09/03/2015

    Nicole, every single detail of your gardens exudes charm. The colors and textures of the plantings are so pleasing, but it's the 'feel' I get looking at the photos... your gardens make me happy.

  12. BoxwoodBarbara 09/03/2015

    Your delight in wildlife (not including deer, except at a distance) comes through clearly. Why not add some milkweed for the monarchs? II love the charm and whimsy and sheer fun of your garden.

    1. user-5257750 09/03/2015

      Hi. Thanks so much for commenting. I have 8 orange milkweeds and one Hello Yellow. But I didn't care too much for orange and black Milkweed Bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus).

      1. BoxwoodBarbara 09/04/2015

        Understandable, but even those oncopeltus critters may be food for some other guests you would rather have around. With or without, yours is a very happy garden.

  13. user-5257750 09/03/2015

    Hello - thank you to everyone who has commented. It is so wonderful. The green statue is a 30" woodland inspiration green fern lady bird feeder outdoor garden statue. You can see her on Amazon or on Pinterest. Mine has a sticker from New Creative. On Amazon it says she is by Evergreen. Sorry, but I couldn't find anywhere to buy her currently online. I bought mine at a great local store - Garden Supply Company.

  14. NCYarden 09/04/2015

    Nicole, hello fellow NC gardener. What a treat to see your garden, as I am traveling currently and so glad I checked in before the day ended. What a dreamy garden you have created in your apparently fleeting spare time. Great mix of plants. I totally understand the moonlight watering, guilty myself, though I know its not the most recommended do what you gotta do though. Besides its a little more tolerable for ourselves with the heat of our brutal NC summer. I too maintain a driveway nursery/hospital. I recently rescued about 50 Japanese maples, some variegated acubas & goshiki hollies and several evergreen dogwoods.... ugh, what was I thinking?....haha, kinda gone beyond the driveway now. Christine and I would love to come see your garden some time if possible. I'm just outside Raleigh so let me know. I'll make sure she doesn't purloin that fern lady statue...ha...sweet piece. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Cenepk10 09/04/2015

    Good work, Nicole. Beautiful !!!!!

  16. thevioletfern 09/04/2015

    I always have to applaud a garden that invites wildlife - holy Swallowtail! Frogs in the garden are a thrill. I love your container pond. I have a rain chain that drains into a pot that holds water lilies. It is so magical to add water to a garden. Fantastic plant choices, colors and just the right amount of art and structure - inspiring!

  17. PerenniallyCrazy 09/09/2015

    Your garden must be the cream of the crop in your neighborhood Nicole. It is just fantastic that you have unearthed and utilized your raw innate talent for design and gardening. I hope your neighbors envy you enough to spruce up their own gardens. Please make sure you send in more photos. I would love to see your garden evolve over the years and change through the seasons, as with your style and taste.

  18. Swinner 01/27/2021

    This article really explained the difference between landscaping and gardening well. I always thought different but soon Kelowna landscaping services from will bless my little backyard.

  19. Swinner 01/27/2021

    Landscaping Kelowna Pros always do a great job.

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