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Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham

North Carolina
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Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham, North Carolina NC

Description

Sarah P. Duke Gardens is a world-class 55-acre garden with lakeside allees, flower terraces, and a small Japanese garden. The most famous part of the gardens are the flowerbed terraces, where an exuberant mix of tulips and other spring flowers delight visitors in early April. From here you can walk little hidden winding paths under forest trees past lovely little flowers such as bluebells. Along the pond or lake there are allees, and it's a delight to see the shimmering water through the trees and shrubs. In spring it is beautiful, with flowering bushes around every turn. A zigzag boardwalk leads over the water here, and there is a section of shoreline rocks where kids love to play and watch the herons. This little spot reminds me of Central Park in New York. As does the circle with the grand sculpture surrounded by roses.
Kids like to sit by the small waterfalls in the Japanese garden and run over the curved red bridge, in the northwest corner of the garden. There is a large bowl-shaped lawn in the south end of the gardens where weekend pleasure-seekers lay in the grass or play frisbee with friends. Other quieter types find little hidden spots under trees for picnics. In spring the gardens can get very crowded on weekends so come early. 
On weekdays it's lovely to visit in the afternoon when there are just enough people enjoying the gardens. In the morning it's a bit empty.
At the visitor center there is a formal garden and gift shop. For lunch you can eat a catered sandwich in the cute brick Terrace House.
It is free to enter the gardens but you must pay for parking which can be a big problem on weekends when there is a huge line in the hot sun at the incredibly slow parking pay machines and half of the machines are broken. Why do they offer free admission but then ruin your visit just to get $4 out of you for parking? This is a real shame.
After, walk to Duke Chapel and check out the historic buildings on Duke Campus. You could also drive to a hip coffee shop in Durham town. Cocoa Cinnamon (the one of Hillsborough Rd is the closest) is four minutes away! Guglhupf Bakery and Cafe on Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd is six minutes away.
Duke University is named after Washington Duke, tobacco tycoon. He gave large donations to make the university a success, as did his sons James and Benjamin. Sarah P. Duke Gardens is named after Benjamin's wife. 
For another excellent garden in the Research Triangle, check out the gorgeous large flowers in JC Raulston Arboretum. Another favorite of mine is the WRAL Azalea Garden in spring.

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Photo Gallery

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The gift shop and visitor building.
The gift shop and visitor building.
Colorful assortment of flowers near the entrance.
Colorful assortment of flowers near the entrance.
Iris fountain.
Iris fountain.
Spring flowers and blue sky.
Spring flowers and blue sky.
The white garden, behind the visitor building.
The white garden, behind the visitor building.
Amphitheater.
Amphitheater.
Sculpted hedges.
Sculpted hedges.
White flowers with yellow middle.
White flowers with yellow middle.
Red trees.
Red trees.
The Japanese garden has cute staircases.
The Japanese garden has cute staircases.
Purple irises.
Purple irises.
Japanese bridge and reflection, plus bamboo.
Japanese bridge and reflection, plus bamboo.
I love the pond!
I love the pond!
Red bridge.
Red bridge.
Ducks cruise by.
Ducks cruise by.
A peaceful place to sit.
A peaceful place to sit.
Zigzag boardwalk.
Zigzag boardwalk.
Tranquility.
Tranquility.
Path ablaze with color.
Path ablaze with color.
Rocks where ducks and kids hang out.
Rocks where ducks and kids hang out.
Blue heron flying.
Blue heron flying.
A girl explores the rocks area.
A girl explores the rocks area.
Green delight!
Green delight!
Green as green can be!
Green as green can be!
White flowers by the hundreds!
White flowers by the hundreds!
Beautiful flower.
Beautiful flower.
Gorgeous landscape design.
Gorgeous landscape design.
Dark pink azaleas.
Dark pink azaleas.
Drinking gourd plant.
Drinking gourd plant.
Pretty azalea.
Pretty azalea.
Stone bridge.
Stone bridge.
Tulips in the terrace garden.
Tulips in the terrace garden.
Daffodils in April.
Daffodils in April.
Fountain in the terrace garden.
Fountain in the terrace garden.
Bright flower.
Bright flower.
Tulip.
Tulip.
Tulips and daffodils!!!
Tulips and daffodils!!!
A cool sculpture kids can play hide and seek in.
A cool sculpture kids can play hide and seek in.
Springtime whites.
Springtime whites.
Orange-yellow flowers galore.
Orange-yellow flowers galore.
Path full of color!
Path full of color!
The many colors in April.
The many colors in April.
A sweet little decoration.
A sweet little decoration.
Weekend picnic in the gardens.
Weekend picnic in the gardens.
I love this view!
I love this view!
Busy weekend day in spring.
Busy weekend day in spring.
Playing in the sculpture.
Playing in the sculpture.
Spring weekend picnic.
Spring weekend picnic.
Cruising in the amphitheater on a hot spring day.
Cruising in the amphitheater on a hot spring day.
Azalea, pond, and grass bowl.
Azalea, pond, and grass bowl.
Sweet May flowers.
Sweet May flowers.
Little cupid-like statue.
Little cupid-like statue.
The lovely colors in the garden.
The lovely colors in the garden.
Bridge and greenery.
Bridge and greenery.
Little bells.
Little bells.
A group sits on the grass while two people stroll in the distance.
A group sits on the grass while two people stroll in the distance.
Duck with nice design.
Duck with nice design.
The rose garden.
The rose garden.
I love these purple spherical flowers!
I love these purple spherical flowers!
Roses and purple flowers in May!
Roses and purple flowers in May!
Purple flowers and pink roses.
Purple flowers and pink roses.
The rose garden is a delight in May.
The rose garden is a delight in May.
Pink roses!
Pink roses!
The stairs and stone walls at the rose garden.
The stairs and stone walls at the rose garden.
The rose garden ?
The rose garden ?
Yellow flowers in July.
Yellow flowers in July.
Summertime at the terraced garden.
Summertime at the terraced garden.
Water lilies!
Water lilies!
Adorable water lilies.
Adorable water lilies.
Pink water lilies.
Pink water lilies.
Summer in the garden!
Summer in the garden!
Cactus planter.
Cactus planter.
Laying in the sun at the huge field in October.
Laying in the sun at the huge field in October.
A mother and son walk by the little pond at the huge field.
A mother and son walk by the little pond at the huge field.
Stripey water lilies.
Stripey water lilies.
Abundance of plants in summer.
Abundance of plants in summer.
Purple water lily flower.
Purple water lily flower.
Gorgeous foliage.
Gorgeous foliage.
Light shining through the bamboo forest.
Light shining through the bamboo forest.
Turtles at the shore.
Turtles at the shore.
Weeping willow by the big pond.
Weeping willow by the big pond.
Ducks on the big pond.
Ducks on the big pond.
Bridge and sunlight.
Bridge and sunlight.
Fall colors.
Fall colors.
Autumn colors in early November.
Autumn colors in early November.
Camelias with autumn colors behind.
Camelias with autumn colors behind.
Japanese Maple in autumn.
Japanese Maple in autumn.
White flowers hanging over a wall.
White flowers hanging over a wall.
A leafy paradise.
A leafy paradise.
Pathway to more fall colors, plus healthy banana trees even in the cold!
Pathway to more fall colors, plus healthy banana trees even in the cold!
Carpet of gold under a fall tree.
Carpet of gold under a fall tree.
Orange Flowered Tea Olive smells amazing in autumn, near the grassy field.
Orange Flowered Tea Olive smells amazing in autumn, near the grassy field.
Visitors enjoying a warm day in early November.
Visitors enjoying a warm day in early November.
Fall leaves and blue sky.
Fall leaves and blue sky.
Fall tree by the staircase to the garden shop.
Fall tree by the staircase to the garden shop.
Even the parking lot looks nice in the fall.
Even the parking lot looks nice in the fall.

Directions

Sarah P. Duke Gardens is located at 420 Anderson St, Durham, NC 27708.
Entrance is free but you must pay for parking, $2 per hour, at the credit card pay machines. This is fine except on weekends when there's a huge line in the hot sun at the incredibly slow machines. Half of the machines are broken, making the line even longer. Come as early as you can on weekends and be ready for an unpleasant beginning to your visit.
You must know your license plate number to pay at the machine. Also, even though the ticket says not to leave it on your dashboard, you must, otherwise you might get fined! This is what happened to us.

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Last Updated: Thu, 18 Oct 2018 20:29:08 GMT