Thursday, April 30, 2009

Duke Gardens: Summer Concerts

Duke Performances Summer Series Highlights Local and World-Class Chamber Music

and Indie-Rock

The best of chamber music and North Carolina raised independent rock-n-roll will be presented this summer in Duke Performances’ 2009 summer series, Music in the Gardens: Listening Locally. With performances staged at Duke Gardens, the summer series is becoming a popular summer tradition with concerts that focus on the best forward-thinking art from the state. The season begins Wednesday, May 20, and runs every Wednesday from May 20 through July 29. Concerts begin at 7 p.m.

North Carolina’s rich tradition of exceptional independent rock is represented this summer with a mix of music scene perennials and up-and-coming artists making waves with the national press.

Three solo artists—two appearing with back-up bands—are featured this summer. The essential Eric Bachmann takes the stage with just his guitar to deliver songs, according to No Depression, sounding like “a troubadour telling tales of isolation and loneliness by a campfire.”

Eric Bachmann

Thad Cockrell, a musician in the old-school country tradition, leads his band through songs that map the uneasy territory between belief and seduction.

Thad Cockrell

Alina Simone, whose latest album of songs by Russian punk-folk singer Yanka Dyagileva NPR calls “utterly haunting,” presents an evening of her spare and compelling melodies.

Alina Simone

The Dex Romweber Duo—led by the front-man for the late, great surf-rockabilly band Flat Duo Jets—will bring his “psycho-surf-rockabilly-garage-punk” to the Gardens. In his new band, Romweber is joined by his sister Sara on drums to create tunes that spark and kick with full-throated rock-n-roll attitude.

Dex Romweber Duo

Duke Performances also features several up-and-coming local bands that are already receiving national attention: Megafaun is a Raleigh-based trio whose sprawling mix of folk, pop, and electronics spreads out like wisteria in the springtime, while The Love Language makes tunes about heartbreak that rattle with youthful abandon.


The Love Language

Raleigh’s The Rosebuds present a modern-take on catchy, pop-edged rock that, according to Pitchfork, exudes quality. The pioneering godfathers of jangle-pop—Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple—will close out the summer series with work from their latest project.

Holsapple & Stamey

The Rosebuds

Also this summer, Duke’s own Ciompi Quartet, performing twice during the series, will be joined for an evening by Emory University’s resident quartet the Vega String Quartet in the Nelson Music Room. The Vega Quartet is one of the U.S.’s best young chamber ensembles. The New York Times calls the quartet an “excellent ensemble" with "crisp, clear precision.” Together, the Ciompi and Vega quartets will perform a program of work by Haydn and Mendelssohn and present the world premiere of a new work by composer John Anthony Lennon.

The Vega String Quartet

Durham based and nationally praised, the Mallarme Chamber Players join up with the Brussels Chamber Orchestra to present an evening of music that includes Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings in E major.

Brussels Chamber Orchestra

The concerts begin May 20, end July 29, and run on Wednesdays in between. General admission is $10, Duke employee tickets are $5, and Duke students and children 12 and under get in for free. Each venue is handicap accessible. Parking at Duke Gardens is free after 5 p.m. Food and drink will be permitted at the outdoor venues.

Beverages, including beer and wine, will be available for purchase at the concerts. Performances will take place rain or shine. Outdoor concerts are held on the lawn behind the Doris Duke Center at Duke Gardens.

Support for Music in the Gardens is provided by Duke Summer Session, Duke Continuing Studies, and Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

Full schedule below:

May 20 - Ciompi Quartet with soprano Sandra Cotton – Kirby Horton Hall, Duke Gardens

May 27 - Ciompi Quartet with Vega String Quartet and oboeist Joe Robinson – Nelson Music Room, East Building, East Campus

June 3 - Thad Cockrell – Outdoors at Duke Gardens

June 10 - The Rosebuds – Outdoors at Duke Gardens

June 17 - Megafaun – Outdoors at Duke Gardens

June 24 - Alina Simone – Outdoors at Duke Gardens

July 1 - Dex Romweber Duo – Outdoors at Duke Gardens

July 8 - Mallarme Chamber Players with Brussels Chamber Orchestra – Kirby Horton Hall, Duke Gardens

July 15 - The Love Language – Outdoors at Duke Gardens

July 22 - Eric Bachmann – Outdoors at Duke Gardens

July 29 - Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey – Outdoors at Duke Gardens

FOR TICKETS: visit or call 919-684-4444.

Duke Gardens: What's in Bloom

Paeonia – Peony

We have two different types of peonies in the Gardens. In bloom for the last three weeks have been the tree peonies (a bit of a misnomer, they are really shrubs) and herbaceous peonies (pictured above), everybody’s favorite. They are just starting to bloom, but with the 80 degree weather we’ve had recently, they may not last long.

Featured from early Chinese history to the present, the peony has often been called “the queen of herbs.” Yet it was prized not just for the beauty and fragrance of the flowers but for its many medicinal uses. It has proven antiviral and bacteriostatic properties. And because the leaves are bitter, deer generally don’t go beyond the first bite.

Herbaceous peonies have been a standard in the garden throughout much of the United States because they are a very cold-tolerant, drought-hardy perennial.

They are a feast to the senses in any garden.You can enjoy them for the next week or so in our Historic Terrace Gardens.

-- Alice LeDuc, director of adult education

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Duke Gardens Plant & Craft Festival today

Just 15 minutes left to go. And it's been a banner year, attendance-wise. Gardens across the Triangle and beyond are going to be looking radiant with all the new plants that have made their way out of here today.

Here's a taste of how the day went.

The lineup started at 8 a.m. and grew rapidly.

Judy Lester and Patricia Becker were the first to arrive. Here's what they got.

Rossy Garcia bought two new orchids that the Orchid Society helped her pick out. She plans to attend Orchid Society meetings to learn more about how to keep these precious flowers thriving.

Vendor Art Knowles sits in what he calls the most comfortable cedar chair ever. You can see Knowles' wood inlay jewelry at

Another Art Knowles creation -- a new twist on the Green Man garden motif.

Three-year-old Kenley Riley doesn't care for the "shop 'til you drop" approach.

Vita L. Jones was one of the last customers, but she still found plenty to bring home to her own garden.

The trio that made it all happen: Horticulturist Jason Holmes, Plant Sale Coordinator Edna Gaston, and Director of Volunteers Chuck Hemric.

Chuck and Edna reflect on the festival.

Duke Gardens Plant/Craft Fest video no. 3

Vendor Matthew Arnsberger talks about how he got started making cedar benches.

Duke Gardens Plant/Craft Fest video no. 2

Architect Ellen Cassilly piles up plants destined for her office and her new home. The sale runs today 'til 2 p.m.

Duke Gardens Plant/Craft Fest preview no. 8

Guest vendor Frank Hyman talks about a rare raspberry plant and its mysterious source.

Duke Gardens Plant/Craft Fest preview no. 7

The sale is today! Come on down, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Here are some more photos from yesterday's preview day sale.

Duke grad student Bidong Nguyen displays his treasures.

Lisa Pang, Nina Sherwood and Emily Ozdowski make a social event of the occasion.

Architect Ellen Cassilly has a trail of green -- and she hasn't even finished shopping yet.

Two-year-old Lyra Piche tries to maintain her balance as she navigates through a narrow pathway. Moments later, she lost balance and landed with a smile in a tray of plants.

Renu Dass gets advice from Culberson Asiatic Arboretum curator Paul Jones about plants that won't attract deer.

Above and below: pre-sale shopping in full swing. If you become a volunteer or donor to the nonprofit Duke Gardens, you can attend the presales, too.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Duke Gardens Plant/Craft fest preview no. 6

More sneak peeks at our guest vendors' offerings. Today's preview day attendance was among our best ever.

Just a few hours left before the throngs head in, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Be sure to wear sunscreen, so you can shop for a good, long time.

Pitchers and trumpets from S&J Greens.

Tasty treats from Vicky's Greenhouse & Garden.

More from Vicky's.

A wind chime from Pepper's Pottery.

More Pepper creations.

Loofah soaps from Paws Here Creatables.

Climbing vines from Niche Gardens.

Karen Dillard's whimsical bird houses.

Berry bowls from Cape Fear Pottery.

Matthew Arnsberger's cedar benches.

Duke Gardens Plant/Craft Fest Preview No. 5

More previews of what some of our guest vendors are bringing. See the full list of guest vendors in Tuesday's Preview No. 2. The sale is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. See you there!

Karen Dillard bird houses.

Cape Fear Pottery

Bela Imports: from the Van Gogh Collection.

Bela Imports: from the Noemia Collection.

Bela Imports: from the Desert Rose Collection.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Duke Gardens Plant/Craft Fest Preview No. 4

Volunteers are a major part of keeping the nonprofit Sarah P. Duke Gardens functioning well and looking fabulous.

We'll write more about volunteering in a later post. But if you're interested in joining our volunteer family, call Director of Volunteers Chuck Hemric at 668-1705 or e-mail him at

Below are some devoted volunteers helping staff members prepare for Saturday's festival. The sale is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please see earlier posts for more previews.

Rick Fisher and Richard Gross.

Marcella Gross, Richard's wife.

Boyd Strain, labeling plants.

Christine Hodder, left, with horticulturist Jason Holmes and others.

Chuck Hemric, bringing levity to the afternoon.

Rick again. He also shoots fantastic photos for the Gardens.

Jan Little, our new Director of Education and Public Programs.

Richard and Jan in a sea of plants, waiting for *you* to bring them home to your gardens (the plants, that is).