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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Sarah P. Duke Gardens

by Robert F. Durden, 2006Duke Gardens. Image courtesy of Flickr user Joanna8555.

See also: Duke University

The Sarah P. Duke Gardens occupy 55 acres close to the center of Duke University's West Campus. They were begun in 1934 when Frederic M. Hanes, an avid gardener and iris lover as well as important figure in Duke's medical center, persuaded Benjamin N. Duke's widow, Sarah P. Duke, to pay $20,000 for a garden featuring irises. Hanes then hired a well-known landscape architect, Ellen B. Shipman, to design a terraced garden, the gift of Mary Duke Biddle as a memorial to her mother, Sarah P. Duke. Opened to the public in 1939, this portion of Duke Gardens, with a rock garden on the opposite hillside, is the oldest and best-known feature. In subsequent years the Hugo L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants-containing several thousand specimens indigenous to the Southeast-the Doris Duke Center Garden, and the extensive Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, dedicated to plants of eastern Asia, were developed. The Sarah P. Duke Gardens are open to the public every day of the year without charge and each year attract over 300,000 visitors.


Marcus Embry, "Watching the Gardens Grow," Duke: A Magazine for Alumni and Friends (July-August 1989).

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Duke Gardens. Image courtesy of Flickr user Joanna8555. Available from (accessed June 14, 2012).


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