The information and education hub of the Gardens is the Doris Duke Center, dedicated in November 2001. Named for Doris Duke (1912-1993), daughter of Duke University benefactor James Buchanan Duke, the Center includes classrooms, a horticulture library, staff offices, and the Gardens' volunteer center. A large event space is frequently used for private, community, and University gatherings, as well as for Gardens functions.
The plantings around the Center were chosen to highlight the architecture of the building and fit its scale. Containers with seasonal plants accent the exterior.
Behind the Center are several specialized gardens. The Page White Garden displays an array of plants with white flowers or white variegated foliage. The Virtue Peace Pond holds tropical and hardy waterlilies, lotus and marginal water plants. The Spring Woodland Garden features spring-flowering shrubs and perennials in an informal woodland setting. One of the newest gardens, the Fowler Garden features two merging ravines, a pond and a bog. A woodland path transverses the ravines with a Duke stone arched bridge and curved stone dam. A bog above the dam features a collection of marginal water plants.
Exhibits in the Perkins Gallery are sponsored in part by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation