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Sarah P. Duke Gardens – Durham NC

When Mr. D and I went to Duke Chapel a couple of weeks ago, we also visited the Sarah P. Duke Gardens that is also on the Duke University Campus.  It is a beautiful, peaceful, inviting place.

Here is the history of the gardens from the Sarah P. Duke Gardens website:

Sarah P. Duke Gardens has been serving the Duke and Durham communities for more than 75 years.

The idea of a public garden arose in the early 1930s, due to the vision and enthusiasm of Dr. Frederic M. Hanes, an early member of the original faculty of Duke Medical School.

Dr. Hanes possessed a special love for gardening and was determined to convert the debris-filled ravine, by which he walked daily, into a garden of his favorite flower, the iris. In the previous decade, the land had been under consideration for creation of a lake. But funds were short and that project was abandoned. So the idea for a garden took root.

Dr. Hanes persuaded his friend Sarah P. Duke, widow of one of the university’s founders, Benjamin N. Duke, to give $20,000 to finance a garden that would bear her name.

In 1935, more than 100 flower beds were in glorious bloom in the area that is now the South Lawn. They included 40,000 irises, 25,000 daffodils, 10,000 small bulbs, and assorted annuals. Alas, heavy summer rains and the flooding stream caused washouts and disease, including iris rot.

By the time Sarah P. Duke died in 1936, the original gardens were in decline. Dr. Hanes convinced her daughter, Mary Duke Biddle, to construct a new garden on higher ground, as a fitting memorial to her mother. Ellen Biddle Shipman (1869-1950), a pioneer in American landscape design, was selected to design the plans for both the construction and the plantings for the new gardens. Sarah P. Duke Gardens was dedicated in April 1939). We celebrated the 75th anniversary of that dedication in 2014.

Duke Gardens is considered Shipman’s greatest work and a national architectural treasure. Most of the approximately 650 other gardens she designed have long since disappeared.

Since that time, Sarah P. Duke Gardens has developed dramatically and beautifully. It now features four distinct areas: the original Terraces and their immediate surroundings, known as the Historic Gardens, including the Mary Duke Biddle Rose Garden and historic Roney Fountain; the H.L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, a representation of the flora of the southeastern United States; the W.L. Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, devoted to plants of eastern Asia; and the Doris Duke Center Gardens, including the new Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden.

There are five miles of allées, walks, and pathways throughout the gardens.

I could just go on and on about the gardens but I am a true believer that a picture is worth a thousand words.  I chose to share my photos with you and let you form your own opinion of this special place.

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In the past I had heard of the Duke Gardens and was so happy to finally see them.  I would like to return for another visit in the future.  The Gardens are open every day except special holidays from 8 am to dusk.  There is no admission fee however there is a fee for parking in the parking lots near the gardens.

I think this would be a great experience to add to anyone’s bucket list.  Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

4 responses »

  1. Thank you, SSS. I have so many memories of the gardens – dates, summer days, pine cone and fir branch gatherings for Christmas, walking down the stone walls, feeling the velvet of the pansies, studying on the hill, too many to name. Hugs!

    Reply
  2. What a lovely and peaceful garden.

    Reply

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