We feel no trip to this part of the state of North Carolina is complete without a visit to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. The gardens are composed of approximately 55 acres of beautifully landscaped and native vegetated woods near Duke University. There are nearly five miles pathways throughout these splendid gardens where every turn is a photogenic opportunity.
The Gardens are a memorial to Sarah P. Duke, wife of Benjamin N. Duke who was one of Duke University's early benefactors. What a grand gift to give to a remarkable University for all to cherish in the years to come. There is pay parking near the main entrance and there is some nearby free roadside parking but it is rather scarce. There is free parking in the paid lot before noon on Sundays and after 5pm which is nice since they charge $1 per half hour to park during the peak times.
With the park divided into at least four sub-gardens it takes spending the best part of an afternoon exploring what each one has to offer. My two favorite gardens are the Oriental Arboretum and the Native Garden. The native garden gave me the opportunity to identify many of the trees and shrubs I have seen in the nearby forests since many of them are labeled. One particular plant I have been wondering about was all over the gardens but I never once was able to see one identified. I guess I will simply have to figure it out on my own before we leave the Carolinas.
The Oriental Arboretum not only has many different tree species but there are some simple art pieces and a very picturesque red bridge that make sitting on benches in this part of the gardens very appealing. Watching the ducks and geese swim around is also very entertaining as there were many baby ducks this time of the year.
By extending our stay here at the fairgrounds we were able to have a place to stay during the very busy Memorial Day Weekend. It also meant we will be able to see our daughter one more time before we leave. We have finally made some tentative plans to go to Mount Airy NC next and then to the Shenandoah Valley after that. We will leave the Fairgrounds on Monday and start the trek north .....