Must-See Spots to Visit at Sarah P. Duke Gardens

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Let the Xayavong family be your guide to Sarah P. Duke Gardens

April Xayavong and her daughter, Josie
Cheerful black-eyed Susans greet curious visitors like April Xayavong and her daughter, Josie, 7 months, in the Walker Dillard Kirby Perennial Allée. These hardy native wildflowers are also a draw for many species of insect pollinators, and they help to support the wider ecosystem by providing food and shelter for wildlife.

Photography by John Michael Simpson

Sarah P. Duke Gardens is one of Durham’s most iconic gems and is a treat to visit with the family any time of the year – it’s open every single day from 8 a.m. to dusk – but especially in the vibrancy of spring and summer. Its Terrace Shop is open, the Terrace Café reopened in April, and vaccinated visitors are no longer required to wear masks indoors. Admission is free, and parking is just $2 per hour. Let the Xayavongs be your guide to several of the must-see spots to visit on your trip. 

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

The Roney Fountain

Bobby Xayavong and his sons, Charles, 2, and Samuel, 4, enjoy the majestic Roney Fountain. Washington Duke’s sister-in-law Anne Roney donated the fountain to Trinity College in Washington Duke’s honor in 1897. An early master plan for the Mary Duke Biddle Rose Garden had called for a fountain, but it was never built. Meanwhile, the Roney Fountain on East Campus had fallen into disrepair over the decades, so it was restored and relocated to the rose garden at Sarah P. Duke Gardens in 2011.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

The Koi Pond

The Japanese carp in the koi pond at the base of the Terrace Gardens come in a wide range of colors and shapes, and are a source of delight to children of all ages.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

The Meyer Bridge

The Meyer Bridge in the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum is the site of many family and wedding photos. The bridge was pale gray for decades before it was painted red in 2010. Now it is one of Duke Gardens’ most iconic features.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Mary Duke Biddle Rose Garden

Potted cacti and other succulents grace the Mary Duke Biddle Rose Garden, which was redesigned in spring 2020 to feature a diverse variety of plants along with disease-resistant roses. Traditional rose gardens have become significantly more challenging to upkeep and maintain in recent years due to the widespread rose rosette disease. The Rose Garden still features roses, but it also incorporates hardy perennials like yuccas and perennial bunchgrasses, along with a changing palette for a more sustainable landscape with a four-season appeal.

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