2020 has been a year of unexpected challenges, but Duke Gardens' staff has risen to the occasion. Whether it's working from home, collaborating with another department, or creative problem-solving, here are a few ways that our staff made sure that Duke Gardens continues to grow, thrive and serve the Duke and Durham communities during the pandemic.
Curator Jason Holmes and other staff members made DIY gardening videos for YouTube.
Educational programs moved adeptly to an online format.
Special events director Marcia Julien stepped up to run one of Duke’s COVID-19 testing sites for students and staff for the fall semester.
Horticulturists carved out nurseries in their home environments when university safety restrictions prevented them from being on site. These ‘Luxor’ chrysanthemums and other gorgeous mums might not have bloomed this fall...
...had horticulturist Michelle Rawlins not taken the seedlings home and cleared a space to care for them (with some help from her children).
And vulnerable Blomquist plants such as box huckleberry seedlings continued to thrive with home care by curator Annabel Renwick and horticulturist Maegan Luckett.
We continued to donate produce from the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden to nonprofit groups serving the local community.
Non-horticultural staff members helped out in the gardens when time allowed,
including special events assistant Kortney Fleming, who has temporarily joined the arboretum team.
Assistant horticulturist Nick Schwab and others mowed Duke Gardens’ lawns when Duke’s Landscape Services staff was unable to be on site.
Communications assistant Katherine Hale shared her science writing abilities with Duke Forest's staff as a guest author.
Unable to host our popular Fall Plant Sale on site, we created a members-only online sale, with contact-free pickups.
We invited instructors and students to request scheduled appointments to spend time in the Gardens for classes, academic projects and accompanied wellness walks.
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in the gardens

Page-Rollins White Garden and Gothic Pavilion

elements of a

white garden

Cacti, grasses and Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Fire’ flank a stone bench in the Mary Duke Biddle Rose Garden.

benefits of

scree gardens

An L-shaped wood bench with boulders behind it, and a view of trees and the garden pond in the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum.

spaces to


Tall red cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) growing in front of the open-air wood shelter at the new south entrance to the Blomquist Garden.

the invitation of a

new entrance

community engagement

Two white atamasco lilies with ferns in the background.

educators join forces for

county-wide bioblitz

screenshot from a virtual tour, showing photos of birds and a squirrel, with educator Kavanah Anderson commenting

virtual field trips

bring nature home

fostering wellness

Milkweed plant close-up

branching out

in new directions

View from the ground of bricks stacked in an herb spiral, with purple flowers in the foreground

video inspires

herb spirals

enhancing the student experience

Sam Aldave poses at the chicken coop in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden

learning through teaching

Sam Aldave

Portrait of Grace Hooks in front of a Duke stone wall

finding sanctuary

Grace Hooks

Portrait of Charles Shaffer sitting on a boulder in the Fisher Amphitheater

seeking tactile experiences

Charles Shaffer

embracing the arts

two long banners attached to the main gates of Duke Gardens

Collaborative exhibit educates through art

A singer and a guitarist performing

Artistic partnership with
Duke Performances

we are thankful for you

Rick Fisher portrait on a seashore
We will sorely miss Rick Fisher, who passed away Nov. 26 at age 71. Among Rick’s many generous contributions to Duke Gardens were his stunning photographs, some highlights of which we have gathered in this slideshow. After viewing his photos, please click here to read more about Rick.
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Ellen Adams
Ellen Adams
2020 Horst Meyer Award Honoree
Close=up of bloodroot leaves

Fiscal Year
2019 – 2020

Honor Society

Close-up of ferns

Fiscal Year
2019 – 2020

Annual Report