Sarah Duke Gardens, Durham, NC

A cool front blew through town yesterday bringing rain, winds, and an overnight low of 62 degrees.  By Sunday the rain was over and conditions were perfect to take a short ride to visit Duke Gardens.  It was partly cloudy but Kat took some magnificent pictures.  Most of them were in the Asian Garden section but a few were in the primary floral center of the 60 acre site.  Her photographs are the story.

The Primary Donor’s Plaque
A View of the Central Garden
An Unknown Lilly
The Butterfly Is a Tiger Swallowtail
Swans, Waterlillies, and Jumping Fish (No, a Reflection of the Sky)
Kat’s Monet Water Lillies
No Koi, But a Few Soup Bowl Water Lillies

Duke Gardens were funded by gifts of inherited family money, most of which came from the long, highly profitable run of American Tobacco Co.   Millions of loyal customers addicted to Lucky Strikes or Pall Mall (the first king-sized cigarette) indirectly funded all this beauty.  Many paid with their health as well, my grandmother, Big, Aunt ‘Ree, and Kat’s dad Dave Bear were just three of the millions of names.  None of the three I knew ever got to see Duke Gardens.

A Bridge in the Asian Garden
No Clue Fleurs: We Missed This One.
Giant Hibiscus in the Asian Garden
What is this? A Japanese Maple in Duke’s Asian Garden.

Kat and I and our kids have seen them, not to mention that the hospital established with smoke money has saved my life twice.  Sometimes life just ain’t fair, but now and then the rich and infamous put some of their fortunes to great use.    Duke University, Gardens, and Healthcare make that list.  Duke Power?  Not so much.   Pigs will fly before you see a truly altruistic electric company!

An Asian Garden Water Feature
Knockout Rose with Raindrops

9 thoughts on “Sarah Duke Gardens, Durham, NC

  1. Lovely! I’ve only been to Duke gardens once or twice, way back in my college days. And even though I am a UNC Tarheel through and through, I owe a debt of gratitude to Duke Hospital for piecing my pelvis back together after a bike accident in 2005. Duke Power, I can live without, as well as Duke basketball! Thanks for sharing Kat’s beautiful shots.


    1. To outsiders the UNC/State/Duke rivalry is hard to understand. LSU people hate teams hundreds of miles away, but here everybody is next door. So where did ‘Tarheel’ come from? I have heard some things related to the Civil War … is that why we now see so much Rams stuff?


  2. Such a beautiful and calming place. It’s great to know you are enjoying your surrounds and feel free to go as you wish. It has been a long and difficult battle, but there is so much ahead to enjoy and experience. We love to follow your “visible-storytelling.”


    1. You and I have enjoyed our 3 score and ten. The time has come to live here and now. Thank you for your cruise tips and don’t forget to every day smell the roses.


      1. Three score and 10 sounds so much better to the ear, than the alternative. You are so very welcome, regarding the tips. I think of telling you something different, every single day, but getting you well, has been more important than my muddying the waters for both of you. Smelling roses is my pastime.


      2. “Roses” has become hackneyed, and when I’m on the second glass of wine I use “crepe myrtles”. Southern, still olfactory, and slightly different.


  3. Stunning photos and an excellent story, as always.

    If you haven’t, you should check out the gardens in New Jersey built by Doris Duke.


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