Sarah Duke Gardens is a true gem of Durham. This 55 acre natural retreat, known to some as a national treasure of landscape architecture, is supported by Duke University and private donors. Originally a rocky ravine with a small creek, it was planned to be dammed to create a lake on Duke’s new West Campus, but was never created due to a lack of funds. In the 1930s, Dr. Hanes, a Medical School Professor who passed through the ravine on his way to work every day, proposed to turn the space into a garden. Persuading Sarah P. Duke to donate $20,000, Dr. Hanes planted iris, daffodils, and other annuals along the rocky creek. Unfortunately the heavy summer rains caused severe flooding and washed away most of the plants. Sarah P. Duke passed away in 1936 after the last of the flowers disappeared.
With his first failure behind him, Dr. Hanes approached Ms. Duke’s daughter and heiress, Mary Duke Biddle. With the idea of creating a memorial for Mary’s late mother. Dr. Hanes was able to convince her to hire acclaimed landscape architect and horticulturalist, Ellen Shipman. Shipman designed and constructed what is now recognized as a national architectural treasure and is also known as one of Shipman’s most impressive accomplishments.
Over 300,000 people visit Duke Gardens every year. It consists of 4 segmented gardens; the original Terrace, the H.L. Blomquist Garden, the William L. Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, and the Doris Duke Center Garden. The gardens are seamlessly integrated with a network of walking trails and lawns. During spring, summer, fall, and winter, a variety of visitors including students, families, employees, and brides and grooms come and spend time here.
Night: Magnolia Grill, at the corner of Ninth Street and Knox, was founded in 1986 by owners Karen & Ben Barker. Wanting to create a neighborhood establishment, they converted an old grocery store into a nationwide top 20 restaurant according to Gourmet Magazine. Using a network of local and carefully selected growers, farmers, and fisherman, the Barkers provide southern cooking, but with a twist – they incorporate flavors from around the world. Magnolia Grill’s plates have been described as a “rollercoaster ride,” “punchy,” and “daring,” so in other words, while it has a southern foundation, it will be unlike any other southern meal you have had at home.