Visiting the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham

Last Saturday was a hot one! I know it’s not officially summer yet, but this heat and humidity is a REAL doozie. The kids and I met up with one of my high school friends and her kids at Duke Gardens for a snack picnic and adventuring. While we didn’t see much of the gardens (toting a double stroller is doable, but not amazing on some of the gravel paths), we got to see my two favorite sections… the Japanese gardens and the main terrace gardens. Oh, and we also saw koi fish and ducks. For kids, THE most important part of the whole shebang.

Growing up in central NC, I’ve been to Duke Gardens more times than I can count. It’s a great picnic spot, with plenty of room for frisbee games, lounging, and just taking in beautiful scenery. Highly recommend it if you’re in the Durham area. Just be sure to check the basketball schedule, because traffic can be a bear if you go during a home game.

The thing I love most about visiting local gardens is that I can get an idea of what is “grow-able” here. We’re technically in Zone 7, but Duke Gardens (and other professional gardens) do a great job displaying how the right nook or cranny can allow you to swing a plant that maybe only grows in Zones 8+ or 6-. 

It also gives me an opportunity to see what sorts of plants look good together without having to buy them all myself to experiment with at home (though I’m certainly NOT against that :-P). Often, seed packets and nursery plants give you a brief glimpse of what a plant looks like… for instance when it’s in bloom. But nothing beats seeing the foliage, the growing conditions, the height/width, the scent, and all the other tangible characteristics in person. 

Like I said, not a ton of pictures from this visit thanks to having to prevent children from swimming with the koi fish, but I hope to go back soon and will add to this album when I do!

 

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Visiting the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh

After a long bout of being stuck at home with sick kids, Jonah and I finally got a chance to go out on a date on Thursday! We visited the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh. This garden is one of my favorites! There’s such a wide variety of things to see there. They have SO MANY different garden zones:

  • Rooftop Terrace
  • Asian Valley
  • Butterfly Garden
  • Color Trial Garden (for testing new annuals and tender perennials)
  • Elms
  • Roses
  • Geophytes (bulbs/corms/tubers/rhizomes)
  • Japanese Garden (My FAVORITE!)
  • White Garden
  • Lath House (shade garden)
  • Mixed border
  • Model Gardens
  • Paradise Garden
  • Perennial Border
  • Scree Garden
  • Southall Memorial Garden
  • Winter Garden
  • Xeric Garden

Check out some of the photos below for a virtual tour (hover over the photos for descriptions)! I highly recommend a stop if you’re in the Raleigh area. Since they are affiliated with NC State University, they always have fun programs, classes, and educational opportunities going on for all ages. Jonah and I joked that there must be a rule that academic lectures must include a pun… our favorite from their list this month was “Plant Parenthood: From Planting to Pest Management” (insert groan/eye roll here). You can see a full list of upcoming events on their site. I hope you’ll pay them a visit when you’re in town!  

 

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