A heron perches in the Virtue Peace Pond at Duke Gardens (Courtesy Duke Gardens)
Duke Gardens offers visitors four primary sections that expand across 55 acres of fertile land. These gardens have flourished since the mid-1930s on Duke University's historic campus.
The Historic Gardens began in 1934 with irises covering what is now the South Lawn; the H.L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants expand across 6.5 acres of rolling woodland terrain; the W.L. Culberson Asiatic Arboretum offers 18 acres of Southeast Asian plants such as Japanese maples, irises, peonies and ginger lilies; and the Doris Duke Center Gardens, which includes the new Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden, feature the Virtue Peace Pond, Page-Rollins White Garden and Angle Amphitheater.
A walking tour takes approximately 1.5 hours, while a trolley tour takes about an hour. (A maximum of five people can ride a trolley.) Trolley tours cost $8 and advanced booking is recommended.
Duke Gardens also offers two certificate programs for anyone interested in pursuing home horticulture or nature photography. A number of learning programs cater to children—from school groups to summer campers.
Japanese tea gatherings take place in the teahouse, and daytime teas are open to children ages 6 and older with an accompanying adult. Visit the Terrace Shop to browse an eclectic array of garden-related souvenirs and gifts, such as wall calendars, note cards, postcards and mugs.
The grounds are open 365 days a year, 8 am to dusk. Duke University charges $1 per half-hour for parking Monday-Friday from 8 am-5 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 pm.