Celebrating a Legacy at the Doris Duke Center


A visitor surveys the ornaments on one of the trees in Kirby Horton Hall.

I wasn’t sure what to expect this year as I made my way through the drizzle to the Doris Duke Center at Duke Gardens in Durham, NC. Last year, I had stumbled upon the lovely Christmas trees in the Center’s Kirby Horton Hall, which serves as a reception and meeting place for university, public and private gatherings. The common theme that tied each uniquely adorned tree together last year was “green”– all the ornaments were homemade, repurposed or recycled.

I waited all year, wondering what the theme would be for 2013. The trees this year—three in all—each depict a specific area of the Gardens and the length of that area’s legacy.

One of the trees, decorated by the Treyburn Garden Club, is a nod to the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, which dates back 45 years.


The tree topper on this tree is a miniature replica of the entryway into the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants. Rustic ornaments, ferns, and photos of native plants complete the theme.


The tree skirt on the Native Plants tree depicts scenes from the garden, including these stepping stones.

Ikabana International decorated the second tree, which is a take on the 10-year-old Page-Rollins White Garden. This is an area of Duke Gardens that I haven’t really investigated or photographed. (Imagine that!) It’s popular for weddings and receptions; and if the ornaments on the tree are any indication, it’s a lovely spot.


Pretty paper ornaments on the Page-Rollins White Garden tree.

The third tree contains scenes from the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, which has dazzled garden guests for the last 30 years. Some of the photos on this tree go back in time and span the seasons.


This photo-ornament of the bridge in the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum is a delightful reminder of when the bridge was cream-colored, not red as it currently is today.

Duke Gardens is a great place to experience and explore God’s natural world year-round. It’s a place that has been carefully maintained by the Duke family legacy for 45 years…and counting.

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