Duke Chapel in Christmas Dress

I darkened the doorstep of the Duke Chapel today expectant to see greenery, poinsettias, and bows. Sure enough, I saw greenery, poinsettias, and bows.

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A peek into the nave from the narthex revealed masses of poinsettias near the front (chancel).

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A panoramic view of the nave: Duke Chapel is a “cross-shaped church” with a long isle down the middle and perpendicular sections near the front that are called transepts. In this photo, the nativity is on the back wall of the left transept and is framed in pine garland.

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My favorite ‘ornament’ was the Advent wreath. For those unfamiliar with the Advent wreath (suspended from the ceiling in this picture), it is comprised of five candles. Four of the candles (often purplish in color) are lit one each week leading up to Christmas. The white candle in the middle is the Christ Candle, which is usually lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

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The circular evergreen upon which the candles rest represents the eternity of God.

Also on display in the Duke Chapel until December 30th is a collection of nine paintings by Robyn Sand Anderson that explores the visual interpretation of scared choral music.

Christmas Decorations ‘Inn’ Trinity Park

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The King’s Daughters Inn at Trinity Park in Durham, NC

The Trinity Park district, near Duke University’s East Campus, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Durham, North Carolina. The King’s Daughters, a 1920s brick Revival along Buchanan Boulevard in Trinity Park, stands as a bridge between the past and the present. In former days, this two-story structure served as a retirement home for aging, single women—a safe haven made possible through the generosity of the Duke family and the Sheltering Home Circle of Durham, which is a local, non-denominational Christian chapter of the International Order of King’s Sons and Daughters.

With the rise in popularity of large-scale retirement homes in place of the dormitory-style living offered at the King’s Daughters Home, the Sheltering Home Circle of Durham closed its doors in 2006. The white-pillared Colonial beauty reopened in 2009 as the privately owned, 4-star King’s Daughters Inn. The 17-room hotel also serves the Durham community as a place for meetings, weddings and afternoon teas.

Last year around this time, I stopped by the historic Inn hoping that it would be decorated for Christmas. It was! I returned again this year to take pictures of anything I might have missed. (Staff informed me that the Inn is generally decorated in the same manner every year, but I did see a few things I’d overlooked last year.)

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The Inn consists of an eclectic mix of antique furniture and decor–all faithful to the styles of the 1920s. The Christmas decorations blended in beautifully.

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A wing on the second floor bore a 1920s art deco vibe.

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I captured a little more of the wall art this year.

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The Inn is designed to feel like a welcoming home, and as such, I found the doors to all the unoccupied rooms wide open last year. My favorite accommodation was The Trinity Suite, a second-floor getaway overlooking the Trinity Park National Historic District and offering a sun porch (through these french doors) for both relaxing and dining.

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The Christmas tree and poinsettias on the sun porch of the main floor were classic and beautiful. The afternoon light made the scene even more spectacular.

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The King’s Daughters Inn captures and holds for our attention a bygone era tracing back nearly a hundred years. Seeing the halls decked for Christmas added to its charm.


Cherry Allée

Which comes first, the leaf or the bloom? For the Akebono cherry tree, the “usual” order of events is reversed—the bloom precedes the leaf. The botanical term for this sequence is hysteranthy.

The intriguing nature of this tree, (a cultivar of the Japanese Yoshino cherry), doesn’t end there: the blossoms appear first as pale pink in early spring, then turn to white as the flowers open in the following days, only to turn pink again before wilting. The first dawn of pink that these petals display are likened to pink morning skies, resulting in the Japanese name “Akebono” which means “daybreak” or “dawn.”[1]

Akebono cherry trees are one of several varieties on display during the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., and these striking beauties bestow their branches on other parts of the country as well, North Carolina included.

In 2012, Duke Gardens redesigned their main entrance—the Gothic Gate entrance—to include an Akebono-lined cherry allée. Last year, I photographed the fruits of this labor while the trees were pretty in pink. (You can view that photo here.)

In early March, I made my way over to the allée to check things out. The trees weren’t in bloom yet, but I thought I detected a pinkish hue in the works on the trees at the far end of the allée. …Soon and very soon, it would appear! (As a volunteer photographer for the Gardens, the urge to camp out there morning, noon and night was irresistible but obviously impractical.)

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Do I detect pink cherry blossoms in the making?! (That’s the Duke Chapel in the sunset.) — Durham, NC

Less than two weeks later, I received word that the allée was in bloom! I high-tailed it over after work that very same day…then the next morning…and a couple days after that, too.

Here’s just a sampling of the photos I took. Enjoy!

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The allée was designed to resemble a stream descending gradually toward the Mary Duke Biddle Rose Garden and its focal piece, the historic Roney Fountain.

At the top of the grandiose stairway leading to the Rose Garden, the cherry blossoms create a striking contrast to the rustic stone arbor below.

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Merely descending into the Rose Garden does not mean bidding farewell to the slightly fragrant, oh-so-lovely Akebono blooms. Even a backward glance is breathtaking:

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A view of the cherry allée from the Rose Garden. — Duke Gardens

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Coming or going, morning or evening, it’s been a magnificent spring for Duke Gardens’ cherry allée.

 


[1] https://www.nps.gov/subjects/cherryblossom/memorial-loop-trail.htm

A Tour of the Tulips at Duke Gardens

I planted three dozen tulips in my garden last fall. To date, only one lonely stem-and-leaf has reached full maturity and bloomed a soothing orange on top.

Reportedly, Duke Gardens planted over 55,000 bulbs.  Although I haven’t counted, it would appear that 54,999 of them have bloomed. For the last two weeks or so, I have enjoyed each new wave with wonder.

Come and take a tour of the tulips!

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The Terrace in the Historic Gardens is tier after tier of tulips. I took this photo in the early morning hours, which I’ve found to be a gloriously peaceful time for passing through nature and marveling at the Creator’s hand before beginning my workday.

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Thanks to the time and talents of the Duke Gardens staff and volunteers, the Terrace is arranged in matching symmetry from left to right, with each row containing different kinds or color themes.

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Morning dew on a Terrace Gardens tulip.

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The midday sun shines through a mass of red tulips. — Historic Terrace Gardens.

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In the Rose Garden, tulips bloom in planters here and there around the 100-year-old Roney Fountain.

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Tulips aren’t the only beauties blooming in spring at the Gardens. The trees on the Terrace are canopies of complimentary colors.

OH, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
— Robert Frost; from “A Prayer in Spring”

Check back soon and I’ll show you what has come and gone but is not to be forgotten–such as the striking Cherry Allee by the main entrance’s Gothic Gate!