Garden Photo of the Day

Mary’s North Carolina Garden

Flowers, potting benches—and ping pong!

large mowed lawn with garden chairs in the back corner

Today we’re off to Durham, North Carolina, to visit with Mary Zesk Thigpen.

Here are several photos of my gardens and yard. They are mostly from the shade gardens and side yard given the time of year.

I take pride in using a push mower and mowing my own lawn, which drives my husband nuts every time the neighbors ask why he isn’t allowed to mow!

I hope you enjoy these photos. I am not a photographer; I just love to play in the yard as a hobby and a de-stressor!

giant snowball viburnum in a spring gardenThis is Mary’s favorite garden photo so far this spring: a truly massive snowball viburnum (Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile’, Zones 3–8) loaded down with flowers, with all sorts of special plants tucked around it.

garden potting stationMary’s husband, Ryan, is an engineer, and he built the potting station as a birthday gift this past February! I’m so jealous. What a fantastic workspace! Maybe every gardener needs an engineer as a partner.

lots of colorful foliage and early spring bloomsVariegated ajuga (Ajuga reptans, Zones 3–10, probably the variety ‘Burgundy Glow’) takes center stage, with blue flowers over the colorful foliage.

ping pong table under a pavilionA pavilion in the garden is beautiful and not that unusual, but look more closely—that looks like ping-pong table. What a terrific idea! There is something for everyone in this garden.

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

large mowed lawn with garden chairs in the back cornerThere is something so soothing about a stretch of pristine green. I can’t believe that Mary mows all of this with a push mower! That’s a workout, no doubt to be followed up by a well-deserved rest in one of those inviting garden chairs.

light pink rhododendron bloomsThis beautiful rhododendron looks like it might be Rhododendron catawbiense, which is native to the southeastern United States and so a natural choice for a North Carolina garden.

garden bed surrounded by lawn and tall treesThere is something so soothing about a garden surrounded by tall trees.

HelleboresHellebores (Helleborus hybrid, Zones 5–9) with their iconic early spring bloom.

peach climbing roseA stunning climbing rose looks like it might be the classic climbing rose variety ‘Joseph’s Coat’.


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View Comments


  1. blondie3 05/05/2021

    Wow, fantastic, that potting bench is awesome! I love NC. Love the snowball viburnum, I just added one to my garden, the blooms are beautiful. Thank you for the tour!

    1. User avater
      MZThigpen 05/05/2021

      Thank you so much for your kind comments! The new potting station Ryan built has been such a lifesaver and helps me quickly hide all of my tools and empty pots in addition to catching all the loose soil! I hope you enjoy your new viburnum! Thanks again,

  2. gardendevas 05/05/2021

    What lovely serene garden spaces. And that potting bench - WOW! Thank you for sharing.

    1. User avater
      MZThigpen 05/05/2021

      Thank you so much for commenting! I love to just wander around out there at the end of a long workday or early in the morning with coffee!

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 05/05/2021

    Love that wide swath of green. Would be neat to take a chair & cup of coffee & sit out there.

    1. User avater
      MZThigpen 05/05/2021

      Thank you! I just added those chairs last year and they are perfect for coffee or a weekend glass of wine!

  4. User avater
    simplesue 05/05/2021

    I always wanted a push mower! What kind do you recommend?
    Your photo of the grass with the woodland surrounding your garden, with the two white chairs is perfection!
    That potting station your husband build is a potting palace- excellent craftsmanship!

    1. User avater
      MZThigpen 05/05/2021

      I am no expert on lawnmowers, however, I use a Toro push mower that took some getting used to but I love it now! It creates beautiful lines in the grass as I mow in a different angle or direction every week. I call it “instant gratification”

  5. carolineyoungwilliams 05/05/2021

    Mary, your yard is absolutely beautiful. Just to stroll through your pictures, I felt a sense of calm & relaxed, love of fun & family and clean country living. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of your beautiful haven.

    1. User avater
      MZThigpen 05/05/2021

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comments, much appreciated!

  6. btucker9675 05/05/2021

    So envious of your potting station! Your gardens are spectacular - thank you for sharing.

    1. User avater
      MZThigpen 05/05/2021

      Thank you! I had to beg my husband for months to design and create that potting station which ended up being quite a project, but so unbelievably worth it! I love it
      Thanks again,

  7. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 05/06/2021

    My green areas of lawn are mostly weeds instead of grass - congratulations on such a beautiful healthy lawn :)

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