in their words
THE AUTHO R IS A DUK E P RO F E SSO R
Coming Up Roses
OF ME DICINE A ND IMMUN OLOGY WH O HAS LIVE D IN D URH A M S IN CE THE L AT E ’ 7 0 S .
B Y DAV I D S . P I S ET S KY, M.D., PH.D.
ROM MY NEIGHBORHOOD IN Forest Hills, I’m within easy walking distance to many attractions that make Durham such a lively and engaging place to live. None, in my mind, is more splendid than Sarah P. Duke Gardens, which is located just off Anderson Street. The Gardens are truly world class and provide a unique place for inspiration, contemplation and relaxation. Duke Gardens occupies about 55 acres on West Campus and features more than five miles of trails, walkways and paths. The Gardens are a memorial to Sarah Pearson Angier Duke who was the mother of Mary Duke Biddle and the wife of Benjamin Duke, who was one of the university’s original benefactors. It’s a majestic place today, but it had a modest start. In the 1920s, the location that the Gardens occupy was intended to be a lake, but funds for the project ran out, and the idea was scrapped. The Gardens began more officially in 1934 when Dr. Frederic M. Hanes, head of the Duke Department of Medicine, encouraged Sarah to donate funds to plant flowers in what was then a ravine filled with debris. By 1935, the first plantings were in bloom but were sadly washed away with heavy rains and flooding. Sarah passed away in 1936, but Dr. Hanes persuaded her daughter Mary to
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contribute funds for a new garden on higher grounds as a memorial to her mother. Landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman designed the Terrace Gardens that became an iconic focal point for today’s gardens, which are divided into four sections: the Historic Gardens, the H.L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants; the W.L. Culberson Asiatic Arboretum; and the Doris Duke Center Gardens. Sarah P. Duke Gardens was dedicated in April 1939. Creating a garden requires a keen knowledge of the plant world, skill in horticulture – a green thumb – and a refined sense of composition and design – a green eye. The team at Duke Gardens does a terrific job with the landscaping and, on my many visits to the Gardens, I am always amazed by the array of color, the juxtaposition of different flowers and the tapestry created by mountain witch alder, weeping peach and riverbank azalea in full bloom. Another highlight of the Gardens is the Roney Fountain, which was added in 2011. The fountain is a large, tiered structure that sits in the center of Mary Duke Biddle Rose Garden. Dating from 1897, the fountain was originally located at the entrance of Trinity College, which is now Duke’s East Campus. Over time, the fountain deteriorated and was lost in the shadows of large magnolia trees. The restored new fountain was forged from the original molds and is nothing short of spectacular as water shoots triumphantly from the bill of the crane that tops the piece. The botanic garden is very much a public place, attracting visitors and sightseers from all over the world. Many, of course, come to Durham to visit a family member or friend who is studying or working at Duke. In addition to looking (and often photographing) flowers, people come to the Gardens to enjoy the large grassy meadow to toss a Frisbee, play catch or just lay on a blanket to enjoy a warm day in the sun. The Gardens have also provided a backdrop for American Dance Festival performances and Duke Performances concerts, and were
THE WOMEN’S ISSUE