Notable Garden Features

Gardens for Peace: An International Network of Gardens to Promote Peace

Dedicated on October 14, 2000, within The Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, this Garden for Peace is the first garden in the network that reaches out to people near a healthcare setting. Located beside the Duke University Medical Center, Sarah P. Duke Gardens provides a special healing place for patients and their families.

Dawn Redwood: Metasequoia glyptostroboides

The Dawn Redwood has a unique history. In 1941, a Japanese paleobotanist named Dr. Shigeru Miki was studying fossils of ancient sequoias and bald cypresses found in Japan. He realized that some of the fossils had been incorrectly identified. Typically the sequoias and bald cypress have alternate leaves, while these mysterious fossils had opposite leaves. There were enough differences that he concluded these fossils were of a different genus altogether, and he named them Metasequoia – "meta" being Greek for "akin to"; thus "like Sequoia."

In the early 1940s, an unusual tree in the interior of China came to the attention of scientists in China's Central Office for Forestry Research. It was not until the spring of 1946 that Dr. Hu in Beijing realized that the living specimens and the Metasequoia fossils were the same tree. The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University funded a seed-collecting expedition in mid-1947. The seeds arrived at the Arboretum in January 1948, and in 1949, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens planted one of the Arnold Arboretum's seedlings. Of the original seedlings, our Dawn Redwood is one of the larger specimens in the United States.

The base buttressing and exposed roots of our 1949 tree are unusual for Metasequoias. Because our tree is so striking, many people played, sat, and stood on the roots, often posing for photographs. These activities damaged the tree and now it is protected by a low chain fence. In the early 1960s, another Metasequoia seedling from the Arnold Arboretum was planted in the Rock Garden.

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Sarah P. Duke Gardens has been the official growing site for the IWGS New Waterlily Contest since 2006. Designed to promote interest in developing new colors, forms and sizes of both hardy and tropical waterlilies, the contest draws entries from hybridizers around the world. These new plants are sent to the Gardens in the spring to be grown and displayed during the summer months. A panel of IWGS judges chooses the winners in July. Visitors also have the opportunity to vote for their favorites by filling out ballots pond-side or online.

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Last modified July 10, 2014 4:52:45 PM EDT