Spanning 55 acres of landscaped and wooded terrain in the heart of Duke University in Durham, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens are named in honor of Sarah Pearson Duke, the wife of one of Duke University's benefactors. Open from dawn until dusk every day of the year, the Gardens are divided into four areas, namely the H.L Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, the William Louis Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, the Historic Core, and Terraces, and the Doris Duke Center Gardens. The gardens are also home to five miles of paths, walkways, and allées and admission are free.
The Sarah P. Duke Gardens were established in 1934 after funding for a lake in its place fell short, and by 1935, more than 100 flower beds made up of irises, daffodils, small bulbs and assorted annuals had been planted. Massive flooding destroyed the gardens in 1936 until a new garden was created by Sarah P.Duke's daughter, Mary Duke Biddle on higher ground. The new garden was designed in the Italianate style by American landscape design pioneer Ellen Biddle Shipman and was called the Terraces.
The Gardens are divided into four areas, namely the H.L Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, the William Louis Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, the Historic Core, and Terraces, and the Doris Duke Center Gardens.
The H.L Blomquist Garden of Native Plants
The H.L Blomquist Garden of Native Plants is a 6.5-acre rolling woodland terrain that features more than 900 species and varieties of regional native plants. Notable attractions in the garden include the Steve Church Endangered Species Garden, the Blomquist Wildlife Garden, the Carnivorous plant collection, which includes unique plant species native to North Carolina, and a Bird Viewing Shelter.
The Asiatic Arboretum
Named after William Louis Culberson, the Asiatic Arboretum features 18 acres of diverse flora endemic to Southeast Asia. The garden is home to many favorites such as Japanese maples, ginger lilies, peonies, irises, and cherries, as well as less familiar species. The garden also features arched bridges, stone lanterns, stepping stone pathways, large boulders, water basins, and various water features. Notable attractions in this garden include the Durham-Toyama Sister Cities Pavilion and Garden, the Pine Clouds Mountain Stream, a Garden Pond and Pond-viewing Shelter, and the Kathleen Smith Moss Garden.
Doris Duke Center Garden
The arboretum features several gardens behind the Doris Duke Center, including the Angle Amphitheater, the Virtue Peace Pond, and the Page-Rollins White Garden. The Angle Amphitheater hosts performances, weddings and special events, and the Woodland Garden is an easy stroll away. Another attraction in the Doris Duke Center Garden is the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden, an organic, sustainable garden that educates visitors about how to provide birds, animals, and insects with food and shelter.
The Historic Gardens are located in the place where the Sarah P. Duke Gardens were established in 1934 and feature Italianate-style Terrace Gardens, designed by acclaimed landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman. Located at the bottom of the Terraces is a Fish Pond, the Frances P. Rollins Overlook, and the Leubuscher Rock Garden while surrounding the Terraces are smaller gardens including the Azalea Court, Memorial Garden, Butterfly Garden, the Walker Dillard Kirby Perennial Allée, and Camellia Garden. Attractions in the garden include the Terrace Gardens, which include a wisteria-covered pergola and beds filled with annuals, perennials, bulbs, ornamental grasses, trees and shrubs; and the Rose Garden and Roney Fountain.
The Sarah P. Duke Gardens offers a variety of educational programs, classes, workshops, lectures, seminars and free community-based programs on a range of horticulture-based topics from natural history and home gardening to nature photography and vegetable gardening.
The Sarah P. Duke Gardens are located at 420 Anderson Street in Durham and is open 365 days a year, from 8:00 am to dusk. The Doris Duke Center is open throughout the year at various times according to the season and guided trolley, and walking tours of the gardens are offered led by trained docents on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 10:00 am. Located at the Doris Duke Center, the Terrace Shop offers an array of garden-related souvenirs and gifts, wall calendars, note cards, postcards, and mugs. The Terrace Café serves a delicious menu of healthy fare, such as fresh salads, sandwiches, snacks and coffee against a backdrop of beautiful views of The Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
420 Anderson Street, Durham, NC 27708, website, Phone: 919-684-3698
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