Gardens Galore

By Andrea Laine, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer

I spent this morning outdoors listening to birds in the tree canopy above a mountain stream graced with buckeyes, native azaleas, spicebush, and lush ferns to name just some of the surrounding flora. It was peaceful and meditative. And yet, I was only minutes away from downtown Durham. I was enjoying a public garden.

Public gardens are great places for inspiration, learning, relaxing, or simply strolling outdoors on a beautiful day. You’ll find sunny places as well as shady places within a single garden. Take home ideas on landscape design or architecture, plant and color combinations, or plant identification. On-site gift shops let you literally take home plants featured in the gardens.

Here in the Triangle, we are fortunate to have three significant public gardens. All are associated with a major university and offer free admission:

Sarah P. Duke Gardens – Durham

There is something for every gardening taste at this 55-acre garden which is adjacent to Duke University. You can wander through an Asiatic arboretum, a terraced garden, native plants, or a piedmont prairie. There’s even a vegetable garden and a garden with plants that only flower in white. Several water features also await you.  

What’s in bloom at Duke Gardens.

North Carolina Botanical Garden – Chapel Hill

Native plant understanding, appreciation and conservation is the focus of this public garden which is affiliated with University of North Carolina and is a short distance from the Chapel Hill campus.  In addition to outdoor display gardens and indoor nature-related exhibits, visitors can hike two miles through an 88-acre area known as the Piedmont Nature Trails, in an environment typical of a central North Carolina forest.

What’s in bloom at the Botanical Garden.

JC Raulston Arboretum – Raleigh

This arboretum features one of the largest and most diverse collections of landscape plants adapted for use in the Southeast. Plants especially adapted to Piedmont North Carolina conditions are collected and evaluated in an effort to find superior plants for use in southern landscapes.

What’s in bloom at the Arboretum.

Enjoy the Triangle area gardens described above during an upcoming staycation. If you are willing to travel a little farther from home, there are dozens more public gardens in North Carolina to explore.