Monday, December 7, 2015
What IS a botanic garden, anyway?
By Sarah Leach Smith
In case it isn’t obvious, we love plants here at Sarah P. Duke Gardens. From the rare and endangered native perennials to the wise, old magnolia trees, each plant is a special part of the Duke Gardens collection. As the sole public garden in Durham, Duke Gardens is honored to be able to share this collection with our visitors. In fact, you will see on the Duke Gardens website that this is a critical component of the Duke Gardens vision:
Sarah P. Duke Gardens is a premier public garden. Our living collections promote knowledge of the vital connections between people and plants, fostering an appreciation of the natural world, environmental awareness and sustainable practices. It is an indispensable and lasting feature of life at Duke University, accessible to all, providing outreach and respite to a diverse and vibrant local community and visitors from around the world.
Duke Gardens is a botanic garden, which means several things. According to Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), “botanic gardens are institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education." Duke Gardens’ collection has also been mapped using GIS technology by our plant collections manager, Beth Hall. Not only do we have records of every plant in our collection, but we also know its exact GPS coordinates.
Our commitment to the Duke Gardens plant collection extends beyond our record-keeping and mapping. In addition, we have put together a list of tips for how to best utilize the Gardens. For example, we do not allow sports equipment in the garden. A wayward soccer ball could end up stuck in a camellia or floating in the Fish Pool. Not only would the ball cause damage to the plants, but you could also cause further damage (to the plants and yourself!) as you go to retrieve it. Similarly, kites and balloons could easily get stuck in a tree. And balloons can be harmful to wildlife.
We invite you to come and enjoy Duke Gardens and its extensive plant collection. In case you don’t fancy yourself a “plant person,” or your kids may not be quite as into the Gardens as you are, we have options! Watch for announcements of our Holiday Celebration and spring Exploration Stations. We also have Family Backpacks available at the Doris Duke Center information desk that contain a variety of ideas for enjoying the Gardens. Finally, we have a diverse array of programs that may interest you, from photography to cooking, birding or beekeeping.
Help us continue to preserve this internationally acclaimed botanic garden so that it may be enjoyed for many years to come!