Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gift certificates available

Looking for a last-minute gift for a garden-loving friend or family member? How about a class or event at Duke Gardens?

We've got a range of classes for advanced or amateur gardeners, landscape designers, floral designers and photographers. We've also got $5 tours with our curators and horticulturists, and our popular Japanese Tea Gatherings in the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum.

Or how about Arts in the Garden family shows with storyteller Timmy Abell or the Triangle's popular Paperhand Puppet Intervention? Please take a look at our schedule here and consider giving the gift of nature.

The certificates will be designed with the recipient's name, and e-mailed to you as a printable PDF. And class credits can even be transferred to a different course if the recipient prefers.

E-mail Jan Little, director of education and public programs, for more information.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Carolina Friends School helps at Duke Gardens

Students from Carolina Friends School volunteered to weed ivy near the entrance of Sarah P. Duke Gardens for their winter service project this week. It wasn't easy, but they were determined and made a big impact. Here are some photos of their efforts. You can also see a youtube video here.

Freshman Jake Hilkey feels for the end of a vine.

Freshman Davi Nydick-Cheshire works on the sea of ivy.

Junior Khalid Salim uses body weight to get the ivy to release.

Jake, freshman Tyler Keel and senior Jeron Robertson form a team.

Freshman Asante Monadjemi has a firm grip on a thick bunch of vines.

He pulls...

...and pulls....

And wins the battle

(getting a bit leafy in the process).

Asante's friends give him a hand.

And he's ready to tackle more.

Khalid and teacher Gustavo Sa confer.

Freshman Frances McDonald scans for vines.

Davi and Frances work with senior Aydin Gultekin.

Jake pulls at the high-growing ivy.

Jake works with Tyler.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday cheer in the Doris Duke Center

If you're in need of some holiday cheer, try to check out the Doris Duke Center this month. We've got five trees decorated to the hilt, courtesy of local community groups. The decorations vary each year, with themes assigned to the groups in advance. This year, the theme was primary colors.

Below is a taste of the decorating day festivities. If you'd like to see the trees up close, the Doris Duke Center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Visitors can tour the reception hall during those hours, except during special events. The trees will remain up through January 5.

Thanks to all the inventive minds who created such a beautiful scene. We at Duke Gardens are thankful for your contributions, and each day we spot new details in the trees that we hadn't noticed before.

Happy holidays!

Orange was the Hillsborough Garden Club's theme. Here's Pat Lopp working on some finishing touches.
The tree included dried oranges, indian corn, wisteria beans, cotton, okra pods, dried grasses, Japanese lanterns, gold yarrow, sweet gum balls, and historical tidbits about Orange County.

Club members with their tree.

Jerry Sheehy and Inga Headrick with the Durham Women's Club's gold-themed tree.

Clarice Bullock adds more gold to the tree.
Jewell Simpson adjusts an ornament.

The Town & Country Garden Club was inventive with its purple theme, embellishing also with starfish, ivy and moss.

More details of the purple tree, with its complementary colors.

The Duke Campus Club took on a red theme.

Some details of the Heritage Garden Club's green-themed tree, which is in the main entrance to the Doris Duke Center.

And two more views of the Heritage Garden Club's tree.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winter Photography Tips

The following column appeared in the Herald-Sun on Dec. 12. Thanks to our fantastic instructor Jennifer Weinberg for sharing her useful tips.

Winter Photography

Photo & article by Jennifer Weinberg

Winter is a fantastic time for nature photography. But there are pitfalls, from light issues caused by snow to tricky indoor-outdoor temperature changes. Below are 10 tips to help you capture the outdoor scenes of your dreams.

You Have the Power. The cold can freeze the energy flow in batteries, making them act like dead batteries. Keep them warm with body heat. If your camera isn’t working, take the battery out and warm it in your hand. Keep extra batteries in a pocket close to your body so they’re ready to go.

Keep Your Legs Warm. Your tripod legs, that is. Cold metal can be very uncomfortable to the touch. Wrap tripod legs in pipe insulation to make carrying and adjusting your tripod freeze free.

Watch for Water. Photographing in snow is like photographing in rain and can cause water damage if you’re not careful. Keep your equipment protected and wrap gear in plastic bags. Don’t forget to leave an opening for your lens!

Prevent condensation whenever you can. Going into the cold from your home or a warm car may cause condensation. Be patient and allow your camera to adjust slowly.

Breathe Deeply. And away from the camera. Warm breath can cause condensation and in some cases may cause frost or ice. To avoid this, keep your breath away from the viewfinder and lens. Also, don’t give in to the urge to blow snow off of your camera. Wipe it away with your hand or cleaning cloth.

Make all white all right. Snow tricks the meter in your camera, and photos often appear dark or underexposed. Use the exposure compensation setting (+/-) to correct for snow at a +1 or +2 setting. Another approach may be to try setting your camera on the scene mode for snow.

Get a clear view. Because a winter scene can cause glare, it may be difficult to view your LCD screen. You may want to invest in a hood or use your hand to shade the screen. You can also make your own hood with duct tape or mat board if you’re crafty!

Position Yourself. Knowing where the sun is in relation to your subject is important any time of day. As with all outdoor photography, time of day and quality of light are key. Early morning and late afternoon are the best time to be outside. At a lower angle, the sun casts long, soft shadows and should be positioned at a right angle to your subject. Keep the sun behind you when it’s high in the sky.

You Can Forget. About your memory, that is. Most memory sticks won’t have any problem with cold or freezing temperatures.

Come in from the cold with care. Again, condensation presents an issue. Take your memory card out of the camera and store it in your camera bag (or a plastic bag) before going inside. Keep the bag closed and let your equipment slowly acclimate for an hour or so.

If you’d like to learn more about nature photography or your camera, consider taking my class at Sarah P. Duke Gardens, “Digital Photography: Understanding Digital Camera, Camera to Computer & Photo Editing,” Jan. 14, 21 and 28, or the myriad courses in Duke Gardens’ Nature Photography Certification series. For information or to register, call 668-1707 or write to Go here for a full schedule of Duke Gardens classes.

Jennifer Weinberg has been a professional photographer for eight years and teaches photography workshops in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. She has a portrait studio on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. See Weinberg’s photos and workshop dates at