Thursday, April 18, 2019

Fun Alternatives to Easter Egg Hunts

Families love to explore Duke Gardens together.
Photo by Bill Snead.

Easter egg hunts are great fun in your home, but they can create problems in Duke Gardens. We want to remind visitors that Easter egg hunts are not permitted in Duke Gardens, and to offer some fun ways for visitors—particularly youngsters—to celebrate Easter and enjoy all springtime visits together.

Why no Easter egg hunts at Duke Gardens? We ask visitors to refrain from egg hunts so that we can keep the fragile plants in this botanic garden safe from excited little hands and feet searching high and low for eggs and candies. We also ask visitors to help protect wildlife, so animals and birds won't try to eat the large number of forgotten eggs and candies later. Many people are unaware that chocolate can be especially harmful to dogs, and we want visiting dogs to be safe, too.

What to do instead? We'd love to hear your ideas. Here are some of ours:

Explore the Discovery Garden, a sustainable, organic food garden, to see fruits, vegetables and herbs getting their start for the season. You can also learn a lot about Earth science, chickens, and bees! We have lots of bee houses in the garden, and also a new bee observation hive where you can safely peer at the bees at work.
New bee observation hive at the Burpee Learning Center. Photos by Nick Schwab.

* Play a game of Search with Your Eyes (not hands, please): Kids can have lots of fun looking all over the Gardens for signs of spring, from new buds to colorful blossoms. How many times can they find their favorite color? How about familiar shapes that appear in leaves and flowers? How many circles, triangles or squares can you find? If you visit our information desk before heading out into the Gardens, we'll give you a free Scavenger Hunt for young visitors to follow.
From beehouses to flowers, there are many cool shapes to observe throughout the Gardens.
Photos by Nick Schwab and Cathi Bodine.

Fun activities to print out in advance: Plan your family visit ahead of time with the activities on our Self-Guided Garden Resources webpage.
Great blue heron and ducks.
Photo by Jordan Montgomery.


Bird watch: From a great blue heron to a red-tailed hawk, ducks and many other species, lots of birds will be enjoying the spring weather in the Gardens this weekend. How many different birds can you spot? Any you've never seen before? Check out the informational signs at the Asiatic Arboretum Pond or the Bird Viewing Shelter in the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, and you can write down species names to learn more about when you get home.

* Shutterbug Madness: We'd love to see your favorite photos that celebrate spring in Duke Gardens. Please share them on our Facebook page or on Instagram (tag us at #dukegardens).

*Easter Sunday Service: Join Duke Chapel Sunday for a 6:30 a.m. Easter Sunrise Service on the South Lawn of Duke Gardens. Please don't forget to bring a flashlight to help find your way to the lawn in the morning darkness, and a towel to wipe the dew from your chairs. If it rains, the services will be in Duke Chapel.

Thank you for joining us in celebrating spring and protecting the plants and animals that we all love.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens creates and nurtures an environment in the heart of Duke University for learning, inspiration and enjoyment through excellence in horticulture and community engagement. Duke Gardens is at 420 Anderson St.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Spring Plant Sale Preview: Bluestar


Amsonia 'Blue Ice'
By Annie Yang T'20

Amsonia 'Blue Ice'
Spring is finally here, but just in case you miss the cooler colors of winter, bluestar (Amsonia) ‘Blue Ice’ may be the plant for you! Even in a genus known for its showy, ornamental plants, ‘Blue Ice,’ with its large clusters of dark lavender blue flowers, stands out even among other bluestars.

Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ grows well in moist, well-drained, and loamy soil and in full sun to partial shade. Especially in hotter climates, ‘Blue Ice’ will appreciate the reprieve of some afternoon shade to help its flowers last longer. However, even ‘Blue Ice’ needs some sun, as its stems may topple over in too much shade. This perennial is relatively easy to maintain and does not need to be cut back after flowering, and it generally does not need staking or support either.

Amsonia 'Hubrechtii'
‘Blue Ice’ works well when massed along borders, in cottage gardens, and in open woodland areas. As temperatures warm up, the spring blooms of this plant will keep a little piece of winter alive in your gardens.

Look for ‘Blue Ice’ at our Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, along with the equally beautiful ‘Illustris,’ ‘Elliptica’ and ‘Hubrichtii’.

Photos courtesy of Walters Gardens.

SPRING PLANT SALE DETAILS:
Date: Saturday, March 30, 2019
Time: 8 a.m.-noon
Members-only preview sale:  4-6 p.m. Friday, March 29
Member benefits: Duke Gardens members get 10% off all purchases, plus access to the members-only preview sale and a full list of plants in advance! Join online or on site.
Parking: Free during the sale.
Pets not permitted. Please see Duke Gardens' pets policy here.
Wagons + boxes: Our supply is limited; please bring your own if possible, and you'll have more time to spend gathering beautiful plants.
Your support helps Duke Gardens to provide summer internships to aspiring horticulturists from across the nation. Thank you!
Please see our event page for more information, and we'd love for you to spread the word by sharing our Facebook event page and inviting your Facebook friends.

Spring Plant Sale Preview: Succulents + Air Plants


Some of the succulents we'll have at the Spring Plant Sale.
By Annie Yang T'20

If you’re an apartment dweller or seeking a low-maintenance plant that will thrive indoors, Duke Gardens’ Spring Plant Sale this weekend will have plenty of plants to brighten your home environment, including a large variety of succulents and air plants that can thrive both indoors and out.

A few of our air plant offerings.
Taking care of air plants is somewhat different from other plants you may be used to growing, but once you get the hang of it, they shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Air plants are the common name for plants of the Tillandsia genus and they get their name because they don’t require soil to grow. Their roots are not for soaking up water but instead attaching onto pretty much any surface—trees, rocks, seashells and more.

There’s plenty of room for creativity and imagination in displaying your air plant. Whether it’s in a terrarium, a mason jar or a hanging air plant rack holder, there’s a lot of room for creativity and imagination in displaying your air plant. Place them near a window to get bright, indirect light and good air circulation too.

But air plants can’t survive on sunlight and air alone. Every week or so, remove your air plant from whatever you’ve chosen to attach it to and soak it in room temperature water for about 20 to 30 minutes. After it’s soaked, gently shake your plant to remove excess water—sitting water can cause rot and harm or kill your air plant. Set it out to dry with the leaves facing down, and within four hours, or about when you get back from class, the plant should be completely dry and ready to be returned to its container. If you nurture your air plant, it may even bloom in wonderful colors—a once in a lifetime event for each plant.

More succulents, ready for the sale.
You can also expand your succulent collection at our Spring Plant Sale. Taking care of succulents is low-maintenance and low-stress—you won’t need to panic too much if you’ve forgotten to water them for a few days or even a week or so. The key to taking care of succulents is to wait until the soil is completely dry and then soak them. If you’ve put your succulent in a pot with drainage holes, water the plant until water runs out of the holes. But if you don’t have a container with drainage, don’t worry. You can add pebble or sand layers to your soil to help with drainage, or tip the container to let the excess water run out.

We look forward to helping you find the perfect plant for your indoor or outdoor needs!

SPRING PLANT SALE DETAILS:
Date: Saturday, March 30, 2019
Time: 8 a.m.-noon
Members-only preview sale:  4-6 p.m. Friday, March 29
Member benefits: Duke Gardens members get 10% off all purchases, plus access to the members-only preview sale and a full list of plants in advance! Join online or on site.
Parking: Free during the sale.
Pets not permitted. Please see Duke Gardens' pets policy here.
Wagons + boxes: Our supply is limited; please bring your own if possible, and you'll have more time to spend gathering beautiful plants.
Your support helps Duke Gardens to provide summer internships to aspiring horticulturists from across the nation. Thank you!
Please see our event page for more information, and we'd love for you to spread the word by sharing our Facebook event page and inviting your Facebook friends.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Spring Plant Sale Preview: Coral Bells

Heuchera 'Apple Twist'
By Annie Yang T’20

Coral bells (Heuchera) 'Apple Twist’
As the seasons change, the colors of Heuchera ‘Apple Twist’ capture the whole spectrum of reds, yellows, and greens of crisp, fresh apples. In the spring, ‘Apple Twist’ leaves emerge with a red hue like Honeycrisp or Fuji apples. Over time, the leaves of these coral bells lighten to yellow green and then a full Granny Smith green in the summer.

A relatively easy plant to care for, ‘Apple Twist’ grows best in partial to full shade and acidic, well-drained soil. Much like apples, Heuchera ‘Apple Twist’ attracts pollinators such as butterflies, hummingbirds and bees, while also being resistant to deer. This plant works well as a border plant or in containers, but its changing colors also make it suitable as a focal point in any garden.

Heuchera 'Black Pearl'
'Black Pearl’
The combination of its glossy, jet-black foliage, purple undersides, and pink flowers makes this Heuchera cultivar a stunning show-stopper. While some Heucheras will bleach and lighten in color with too much exposure to the sun, ‘Black Pearl’ retains its striking color even in full sun. However, especially in warmer climates, this plant benefits from partial to full shade.

Heuchera ‘Black Pearl’ is a villosa hybrid, which is a late-blooming species with increased heat and humidity tolerance. ‘Black Pearl’ will grow best with average amounts of moisture, and drier soils will prevent rotting and also deter slugs. Cut back the previous year’s foliage in early spring to allow room for new growth of this intensely colored perennial.

‘Black Pearl’ is quite versatile and can fill a number of different roles in a garden. It works well in larger containers that can accommodate its dense leaves, or as a landscape plant. ‘Black Pearl’ can be paired up with brightly colored plants that bring out the full intensity of its dark leaves, or it can be accompanied by purples and violets for a more monochromatic but no less vibrant look.

‘Autumn Bride’
Heuchera 'Autumn Bride'
With its tall clouds of white flowers that bloom from August through September, this Heuchera cultivar certainly does seem reminiscent of a bride all dressed in white. Its flowering is one of the largest in the genus—this plant pulls out all the stops. What’s more, the foliage of Heuchera ‘Autumn Bride’ is velvety to the touch, much like the fine quality of a bride’s gown.

Especially in southern climates, ‘Autumn Bride’ thrives in the shade and in well-drained soils that are moderately moist. This easy-care cultivar fares better than most Heucheras in hot and humid summers, and it has good drought tolerance and is deer resistant.

Its 2-foot stalks with white blooms really stand out when planted in groups or massed, and they make lovely cut flowers. ‘Autumn Bride’ can also be wedded to other plants to create exciting foliage contrast and combinations.

Photos courtesy of Walters Gardens & Lurie Garden.

SPRING PLANT SALE DETAILS:

Date: Saturday, March 30, 2019
Time: 8 a.m.-noon
Members-only preview sale:  4-6 p.m. Friday, March 29
Member benefits: Duke Gardens members get 10% off all purchases, plus access to the members-only preview sale and a full list of plants in advance! Join online or on site.
Parking: Free during the sale.
Pets not permitted. Please see Duke Gardens' pets policy here.
Wagons + boxes: Our supply is limited; please bring your own if possible, and you'll have more time to spend gathering beautiful plants.
Your support helps Duke Gardens to provide summer internships to aspiring horticulturists from across the nation. Thank you!
Please see our event page for more information, and we'd love for you to spread the word by sharing our Facebook event page and inviting your Facebook friends.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Spring Plant Sale Preview: Hostas

Hosta 'Sum and Substance'. Photo: Jason Holmes.
By Katherine Hale

Each spring and summer, gardeners’ hearts are taken hostage by hostas—and with good reason. These shade-garden stalwarts come in a dizzying number of horticultural hybrids, with hundreds more introduced each year by enthusiastic breeders. While the classic green-leafed hosta remains popular, showy blue, gold and variegated leafed-varieties offer new twists on old favorites, ranging in size from petite to giant. With hostas, the possibilities are limited only by the imagination.

Hosta 'Guacamole'. Photo: Walters Gardens.
While the broad ribbed leaves are the main focal point throughout the growing season, hosta flowers are nothing to sneer at. Stalks of dangling, bell-like flowers rise gracefully out of the canopy in mid-summer, swaying gently in the breeze. The effect is multiplied when hostas are planted en masse in a perennial border or woodland garden, especially if fragrant varieties are involved.

All hostas are incredibly tough, though they exhibit their best color and vigor with afternoon shade, adequate moisture, and high organic matter. Their main enemies in the Triangle region are white-tailed deer, who vacuum up any plants they can reach, meaning that fencing or other protection is a must. Slugs may also be a concern in the shadiest areas.

Hostas are regular bestsellers at our annual spring plant sale, and we’ll be offering a smorgasbord of great selections again this year: ‘Akikaze’, ‘Bridal Falls,’ ‘Chartreuse Wiggles’, ‘Cool as a Cucumber’, ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Dream Weaver’, ‘First Frost’, ‘Guacamole’, ‘Joy Ride’, ‘June Spirit’, ‘Komodo Dragon’, ‘Lakeside Paisley Print’, ‘Neptune’, ‘Sum and Substance’, and ‘Waterslide’.

Hosta 'Chartreuse Wiggles'. Photo: J. Holmes.
Whether you are a beginning gardener just beginning to explore this incredible genus, or an experienced connoisseur, the perfect hosta awaits.


SPRING PLANT SALE DETAILS:

Date: Saturday, March 30, 2019
Time: 8 a.m.-noon
Members-only preview sale:  4-6 p.m. Friday, March 29
Member benefits: Duke Gardens members get 10% off all purchases, plus access to the members-only preview sale and a full list of plants in advance! Join online or on site.
Parking: Free during the sale.
Pets not permitted. Please see Duke Gardens' pets policy here.
Wagons + boxes: Our supply is limited; please bring your own if possible, and you'll have more time to spend gathering beautiful plants.
Your support helps Duke Gardens to provide summer internships to aspiring horticulturists from across the nation. Thank you!
Please see our event page for more information, and we'd love for you to spread the word by sharing our Facebook event page and inviting your Facebook friends.

Spring Plant Sale Preview: Peonies

'Felix Crouse' peony
By Katherine Hale

It wouldn’t be a Spring Plant Sale here at Duke Gardens without a wide variety of peonies available for your gardening pleasure. Depending on the weather and cultivar in question, these showy standouts bloom anytime between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, offering an excellent way to honor those special people in your life.

Beloved by Chinese scholars and French Impressionists alike, peonies have a pedigree that spans over a thousand years of cultivation and appreciation, and they add character and class to every garden. In addition to old favorites like 'Sarah Bernhardt’, this year we’ll be offering another classic selection, ‘Felix Crouse’.

Known in the trade as a bomb-type double, ‘Felix Crouse’ blooms are a massive explosion of raspberry red petals with a silky texture and pleasant fragrance. First exhibited in France in 1881, ‘Felix Crouse’ is a top of the line selection that can live for up to 50 years, and it only improves with age. A bouquet of these beauties can last over a week if flowers are cut in the bud, or you can leave them on the plant to dazzle humans and butterflies alike, while pesky rabbits and deer keep their distance.

Like all peonies, ‘Felix Crouse’ will never need dividing, and it responds poorly to transplanting, so proper siting is critical for its longevity and success. Rich, well-drained soils in full sun or light afternoon shade are best, and keep it away from trees and shrubs that will compete with it for water and nutrients. Large, heavy blooms may require staking to remain upright, particularly in heavy rains. Aside from these details, ‘Felix Crouse’ is trouble-free, and equally at home in an informal hedge, the back of a perennial border, or as a beloved specimen plant.

Our peony lineup also includes ‘Bartzella’, ‘Bowl of Beauty’, ‘Festiva Maxima’ and ‘Red Magic’, and possibly a few additional surprises.  Come out and see for yourself which ones strike your fancy—with thousands of alluring cultivars commercially available, you never know what might turn up!

Photo courtesy of thesitegardener.com.


SPRING PLANT SALE DETAILS:
Date: Saturday, March 30, 2019
Time: 8 a.m.-noon
Members-only preview sale:  4-6 p.m. Friday, March 29
Member benefits: Duke Gardens members get 10% off all purchases, plus access to the members-only preview sale and a full list of plants in advance! Join online or on site.
Parking: Free during the sale.
Pets not permitted. Please see Duke Gardens' pets policy here.
Wagons + boxes: Our supply is limited; please bring your own if possible, and you'll have more time to spend gathering beautiful plants.
Your support helps Duke Gardens to provide summer internships to aspiring horticulturists from across the nation. Thank you!
Please see our event page for more information, and we'd love for you to spread the word by sharing our Facebook event page and inviting your Facebook friends.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Spring Plant Sale Preview: Native Knockouts

Coreopsis 'Early Sunrise'. Photo courtesy of Walters Gardens.
By Katherine Hale
This year’s Spring Plant Sale will feature a wide variety of horticultural selections, from tried-and-true classics to the latest cultivars. We’ll also have trouble-free and reliable southeastern natives for those looking for low-maintenance and trouble-free alternatives to the standard horticultural palate, including these three knockouts:

This 'Snowflake' oakleaf hydrangea is one of several
cultivars growing in Duke Gardens. Photo: J. Holmes
Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) is a southeastern native shrub with year-round appeal. Huge buds unfurl in the spring to reveal complex lobed leaves before bright pyramidal flower clusters arrive in midsummer. After a vivid display of autumn color, the exfoliating bark of bare branches provides winter interest. They’re an excellent choice for hedges or as foundation plants, especially in places too shady or moist for more conventional options. This year, we’re featuring ‘Snow Queen,’ a sterile cultivar with especially showy sprays of blooms, and ‘Ellen Huff,’ a vigorous, heat-tolerant selection with excellent form.







Cardinal flower. Photo: J. Holmes.
Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is another garden-worthy native that sends up distinctive plumes of bright red blossoms irresistible to hummingbirds in August and September. This showstopper requires moist soil to flourish, making it an ideal choice for rain gardens, stream edges and other soggy areas, though a heavy layer of mulch and frequent watering makes drier areas more acceptable. Cardinal flower offers a zing of color and charm in sunny wet meadows or woodland shade gardens, especially when paired with like-minded species like Indian-pink (Spigelia marilandica), ferns or hostas. Left to its own devices, it will naturalize over time in a charming but unaggressive fashion, multiplying to fill in any gaps or openings in its vicinity.








Coreopsis 'Early Sunrise'. Photo: Walters Gardens.
Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’ is a compact version of a hardy wild favorite, with all of the charm and none of the sprawl of its undomesticated cousin. Masses of bright yellow flowers emerge on cue at midsummer, and they will bloom for months if regularly deadheaded. Like all coreopsis, ‘Early Sunrise’ flourishes in poor, dry soils and is popular with butterflies, bumblebees and other native pollinators. Keep it out of moist areas and let it naturalize freely in open meadows and prairie-style plantings with good drainage, and you should enjoy many years of colorful blooms.
Whatever your garden type or skill level, we’ll have something for you here, along with expert advice from Duke Gardens horticulturists, Durham Master Gardeners and specialty vendors. We hope to see you there!


SPRING PLANT SALE DETAILS:
Date: Saturday, March 30, 2019
Time: 8 a.m.-noon
Members-only preview sale:  4-6 p.m. Friday, March 29
Member benefits: Duke Gardens members get 10% off all purchases, plus access to the members-only preview sale and a full list of plants in advance! Join online or on site.
Parking: Free during the sale.
Pets not permitted. Please see Duke Gardens' pets policy here.
Wagons + boxes: Our supply is limited; please bring your own if possible, and you'll have more time to spend gathering beautiful plants.
Your support helps Duke Gardens to provide summer internships to aspiring horticulturists from across the nation. Thank you!
Please see our event page for more information, and we'd love for you to spread the word by sharing the event on Facebook and inviting your Facebook friends.