A Short Trip from Cary: Sarah Duke Gardens


Durham, NC — It’s been a bucolic autumn, with mild temperatures and just enough rain. A short trip from Cary, you’ll find the magnificent Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Free and open to the public, it is a breathtaking experience in the fall. 

Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham

Open 365 days a year from 8 AM to dusk, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham have been described as “the gem of Duke University.” And you thought it was the basketball team.

55 acres of stunningly landscaped terraces, pathways, alleys and sitting areas.

We visited (me and the missus) on a quiet Monday for a picnic lunch.

Pond Lilies the Size of Man Hole Covers

We saw a lot of things we recognized – but twice as large as we’ve ever been able to grow in our own garden. Banks of Coleus, mounds of Lantana and giant tongues of Celosia.

We also saw things like pond lilies the size of man hole covers. They were so big and perfectly formed, floating serenely in the pond, that at first we thought they might be fake. But, no, this is the Duke Gardens. The pond lilies are real.


Weekends are busy at Duke Gardens, so go early or sneak a trip during the week. Bring a picnic lunch.

Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite.









A Short Trip from Cary: Duke Gardens

Go in the autumn (like now), before the first frost.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens
426 Anderson St.
Durham, NC, 27705

Open 365 days a year
8 AM – dusk
admission: free


Story and photos by Hal Goodtree.


The Gardening column on CaryCitizen is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Road in Cary.