Field Trip: Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens is one of our favorite places that we don’t visit often enough. Over the spring, summer, and early fall, we stop by every single week to pick up our produce box, but we don’t take time to go and enjoy the gardens every time. This summer, we got there about 3-4 times total. Duke Gardens is a beautiful gardens on Duke’s campus that’s open to the public. You have to pay for parking, and you can buy duck food in the garden gift shop, but it’s overall an inexpensive outing. My kids love feeding the ducks, and since we almost always go in the afternoons, it’s a good place to get wiggles and crazies out in the before-dinner hour.

I’ve enjoyed going to Duke Gardens since before I had kids…one of my best library school friends and I made an outing there in between our two years of school just to enjoy reading in the sunshine. There’s a beautiful variety of plants and types of gardens. I don’t think I’ve explored anywhere near everything there is, but some of my favorites are the terraced garden (weddings are often held here, but they don’t close off the whole gardens, so you can glimpse wedding parties in their finery on many weekend days!), the duck pond (of course), and the rose garden near the entrance. I’ve only been to the native plants garden once, and I’d like to explore there more, and we also have not visited the Discovery Garden, which is supposed to be perfect for kids…so hopefully we’ll make a few more visits before we leave the area.

Back in August, I managed to grab a few pictures (all on my phone, and I’m not a great photographer even with a real camera, so temper your expectations accordingly) during one of our exploration/duck feeding expeditions:

The rose garden and fountain.

The rose garden and fountain.


Terraced Garden

Terraced Garden.


Lily pads in the pond at the bottom of the terraces.

Lily pads in the pond at the bottom of the terraces.

Huge goldfish in the lily pond.

Huge goldfish in the lily pond.


Duck pond (ducks not really in view).

Duck pond (ducks not really in view).

Sorry, but I didn’t get any pictures of feeding the ducks–managing three children who aren’t sure whether or not to be afraid of hungry ducks is all I can manage during duck feedings.

I definitely recommend Duke Gardens as a place to enjoy the outdoors, with kids or without. Here’s their website for more information:

Making the most of our last year (?) in Durham

We are looking at what may be our last year in Durham, and I’ve been wanting to put down in black and white things to do before we move away. I would say I’m 60% sure at this point that next year we’ll be moving back to the Baltimore/Washington area, where we both grew up and where both our immediate families still live. I will be about 80% sure one way or another by October, and I think we’ll know for certain by the end of February 2014. This is what we’ve always planned to do, and there are some aspects that we are definitely looking forward to (grandparents within a couple hours!), but Durham has become home in the 7 years we’ve lived here, and we will miss it a great deal.

Despite having lived here for a decent stretch now, there are many activities in the area that we either haven’t taken advantage of at all, or haven’t done as much as I would like. Here’s my list of things to do before we go, in no particular order:

  • Go to Maple View Ice Cream.
  • Walk or ride bikes on the American Tobacco Trail.
  • Visit at least 2 of these parks: Falls Lake, Umstead, Eno River, West Point on the Eno, Occoneechee Mountain. (I’ve been to the last 2, but not for awhile, and I’ve never visited the other three.)
  • Take a walk in Duke Forest.
  • Hear Will Willimon preach while he’s at Duke Memorial UMC.
  • Go to the State Fair. (We’ve been twice, but I really like it and want to try to go again this year!)
  • See an American Dance Festival performance. (I don’t know if this will be possible, since we’d have to move by July 1, but I’d like to try.)
  • Go to at least 2 Durham Bulls games. (I’m cheating on this one: we’re going to one tonight!)
  • Spend a day in Chapel Hill/Carrboro (reminiscing about my library school days, I guess…).
  • Eat at Vin Rouge and try out either Nana’s or one of the other fancy Durham restaurants we haven’t been to (obviously a kid-free selection).
  • Go to 2-3 of the choral groups performing via Duke Performances this season. (This is more on my husband’s list than mine, but I like going to hear music with him at least occasionally–and we could combine it with the one above!)
  • Take the older two kids to see the Nutcracker when it’s performed at UNC’s Memorial Hall.
  • Go to the NC Aquarium once more.

I think that about covers it. I’m sure there are things I’d like to do that I’ve missed, but I can add them later (and I don’t want the list to get too long, if I’m to have any hope of completing it!!). There are a few things I am fairly confident we will do and so didn’t list them: visiting the Life & Science Museum regularly, visiting Duke Gardens, visiting the NC Zoo 1-2 more times. It would also be great to get to either the Outer Banks or Asheville since I’ve never been to the first and only to the second once upon a time in middle school, but those will be more difficult to fit in, especially now that we have someone in school.

Anything I absolutely must add to the list?

Where I’ve Been

You go away for the weekend, and the whole house falls apart. Ok, it wasn’t very together to begin with, but any chance of blogging was on hold from last Thursday on, and I’m just now coming back to it.

Here’s where we went:

My favorite place in the world.

My favorite place in the world.

It's hard to see, but that's the waterfall back there.

It’s hard to see, but that’s the waterfall back there.

I am lucky enough to have an aunt and uncle who own a beautiful piece of land in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Sparta, NC, only 3 hours from Durham. I grew up going here in the summer, usually around the 4th of July, and now my kids are lucky enough to get to visit 2-4 times a year. It is a kid and dog paradise (and partly a paradise for my kids because there are dogs, which we don’t have at home). There is a creek in which to play (not this time, it was only in the 60’s and my kids are not at the “stand back and watch” stage for playing in water yet), lots of room to run around, several pretty paths for taking walks, and (also not this time) berries and vegetables to pick. On this trip, my daughters spent a good deal of time excavating gravel from the driveway (and then getting in trouble for dumping it in the garden), and we got to visit with some cousins who have an adorable 11 month old girl. We ate hamburgers and hot dogs, played with the dogs, and took several long walks. A good time was had by all.

Back at home, the kids have been busy:

House built by my son.

House built by my son.

Cinderella's castle, by my daughter. Apparently, Cinderella is standing on the front porch, but I couldn't see her, either.

Cinderella’s castle, by my older daughter. Apparently, Cinderella is standing on the front porch, but I couldn’t see her, either. She’s not either of the two cylinders in front, or the higher rectangular block just behind–we asked.

And one last note. We have a visitor, who likes to hang out near our rosebush:

Much too brave baby rabbit.

Much too brave baby rabbit.

He’s been in our yard for the past two weeks or so. He’s very cute, and very bold–I got pretty close when taking pictures, and we’ve had him sit only feet from us while we were standing (with children) on the back porch. I am somewhat worried that he’s going to get eaten, since he doesn’t run from much, but we’ll enjoy him in the meantime (especially since we haven’t planted a vegetable garden this year!).

So, I’m back for now.

Backyard gifts

Just a quick post, as life does not include a lot of blogging time this week. (I’m skipping this week’s customary library book post.)

I love roses; it’s inherited from my mother, but also a result of always having roses around when I was growing up. My mom’s love of roses led her to grow roses herself, so I always remember having rosebushes in our garden.

I, however, do not like to garden–we have had some form of herb or vegetable garden for about the last 6 years, but it’s always my husband who initiates and does 99% of the work for it. So one of the best things about our current house is that it came with a rosebush right outside our dining room window. The bush was not in great shape when we arrived, but my husband cut it back a whole lot and it started producing beautiful white roses. I have mostly taken over caring for the rosebush–which basically means calling my mother when things go wrong (it got black spot last year) and dead-heading old blooms. I apparently have just enough gardening impetus to take very basic care of one rosebush.  The rosebush amply repays my haphazard care, and has already started blooming this year.


First blooms of the season.


Already in full bloom. I need to get some up-close pictures of the blossoms–maybe on the next round.