Archive for North Carolina

North Carolina and Duke Gardens

Posted in garden to visit with tags , , on June 28, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

The interstate plantings of the North Carolina Highway Department are so beautiful that they could cause traffic accidents from the gawking of speeding gardeners.

My oldest son just graduated from Elon University, in Elon, North Carolina.  My husband and I decided to make the graduation trip a mini-vacation so we spent four nights in Elon with two days dedicated to plants (of course).  Traveling to gardens around North Carolina is a pleasure due to the amazing roadside plantings installed by the highway department.  Instead of vast expanses of boring grass like we have in Pennsylvania, North Carolinians are treated to colorful displays of poppies, dame’s rocket, and larkspur.  Of course, it was an interstate so getting to the side to photograph the flowers was a hair-raising experience.  However, we made it:

One of our garden visiting days was spent at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina.  Duke Gardens is situated on 55 acres adjacent to Duke University’s West Campus and the Duke University Medical School.  The gardens opened in 1939, and today are comprised of four main areas: the historic terraced gardens, the native plant garden, the Asiatic Arboretum, and the Doris Duke Center for information and education.  We toured all four areas and found fascinating plants and enchanting sights everywhere we turned.

The first area, the Doris Duke Center and Gardens, encompasses the visitors’ center with educational facilities, a gift shop, and formal areas for events.  There was a wedding going on when we were there in the lovely gardens out back so we didn’t explore this part of the garden as much as we might have.

Behind the Doris Duke Center is a shady spring woodland garden.

Next to the woodland is a very interesting multi-level bog garden.

The second area, known as the Historic Gardens, is accessed down an impressive walk bordered by an allee of trees.  This area is the oldest and most formal part of the gardens with Italianate terraces full of annuals and perennials, a wisteria-covered pergola, a fish pool, a rock garden, and much more.  We ate lunch in the small shaded courtyard of the charming Terrace Cafe.

Formal entrance walk to the Historic Gardens.

The entrance walk leads to the rose garden.

The South Lawn area was filled with picnickers and surrounded by majestic southern magnolias, M. grandiflora, in full bloom.  As a northerner, I was captivated by the size and beauty of these trees, which were everywhere in NC.

The flower buds of southern magnolias are huge.

The flowers are breathtaking.

The rock garden area in the Historic Gardens.

The Iris Walk and Bridge.

I love these textures and colors.

The Terrace Cafe is in an elegant stone building surrounded by lovely shade gardens.  Out back is a  stone courtyard with outdoor seating.

The third area of Duke Gardens, and my favorite, is the H.L. Blomquist Garden, featuring over 900 species of regional natives.  The plants are very well-labeled and displayed, making it an excellent resource for gardeners interested in adding natives to their landscape.  The shady paths meander through lovely stands of  trees and shrubs underplanted with shade-loving groundcovers.

The gatehouse at the entrance of the H.L. Blomquist Garden.

Path on the hillside above the Blomquist Pavilion.

There were many mature loblolly pines, Pinus taeda.

The bark of loblolly pines is gorgeous.

This is the biggest oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia, I have ever seen.

I was especially taken with this shady groundcover known as beetleweed, Galax urceolata.

I also wish this wild ginger or heartleaf, Hexastylis lewisii, would grow as a groundcover in my garden.

Duke Gardens is huge and by the time we got to the fourth area, the W.L. Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, we were pretty hot and tired so not many photos were taken.  There are over 1.300 Asian species and cultivars in this collection.

A great blue heron looks for fish in the Asiatic Arboretum’s large pond with the red Ayamebashi or Iris Bridge in the background.

The shrub collection in the Asiatic Arboretum is extensive with many I had never seen before, including this large spider azalea, Rhododenron macrosepalum.

I was captivated by the orange flowers and evergreen-looking leaves on this pomegranate, Punica granatum ‘Madame Lagrelle’ (thanks for the ID help) .

I wanted to include a close up of the flowers for my good friend Donna at Garden Walk Garden Talk.  I think she may want to plant this shrub next to her orange iris!

I hope you have enjoyed your virtual tour of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.  If you are ever in North Carolina, it is definitely worth a real visit.  I have added a link to my sidebar under Places to Visit so you will always be able to find it.


Notes: Click on any photo to enlarge.  Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.), just click here.

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