It seems like ages ago that I wandered through the Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina, on a nearly 60-degree day in January. ( 8 inches of snow fell here in northern Virginia on Monday and warm weather is like a dream.) This was the day before visiting the JC Raulston Arboretum, (check out their new website!) described in my last post.
Also part of a university campus, the Duke Gardens, you might say, is the posher, private-school neighbor to the north of JCRA. Both are fabulous places to visit, but SPDG's history is quite a bit different. (You can easily visit both in the same day, unless you are a major plant geek, in which case you should probably take a day for each to sufficiently absorb the plant labels.)
Founded in 1934, the Duke Gardens began with a bequest from the widow of one of Duke University's founders, Sarah P. At 55 acres it's many times bigger and grander than JCRA, with a formal terrace garden designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman, said to be one of the finest examples of her work, according the Duke Gardens' website. Not surprisingly, the Duke family money came mostly from tobacco and the textile industry.
|A cherub rises out of a fountain in the Terrace Garden|
|Looking down the hill toward the bottom of the Terrace Garden|
|I love the character of the small buildings that flank the terrace garden and wonder how they are used.* See the bottom of this post for more info.|
|Another small building on the opposite side of the garden. The cactus adds some whimsy to this formal space.|
Major design features of the Asiatic Arboretum include a linear lake and a brilliant orange Japanese-style bridge. An Asian couple, decked out in formal wear, were having their pictures taken on the bridge just before I snapped these photos.
|A Taxodium distichum (Bald Cypress) trunk on the path between the|
Asiatic Arboretum and the lower Terrace Garden
|An unusual paring of potted Agaves and Edgeworthia|
In case you are wondering, Doris Duke is the niece of Sarah P., who was married to Benjamin Duke, the younger brother of Doris's father James Buchanan (Buck) Duke. The Doris Duke Center Gardens within SPDG comprise several display gardens around the visitor center, also named for Doris, and an amphitheatre.
Among other things, Doris inherited the Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey, from her father. Perhaps Doris was inspired by the Duke Gardens, which were under construction in Durham when she was in her early 20's, as she was instrumental, later in her life, in turning Duke Farms into a horticultural destination.