|Posted by Bonnie Helander on October 23, 2013 at 12:10 AM|
This past spring on a trip to see our son and wife in Virginia Beach, we stopped and visited several public gardens in North Carolina,including the Sarah P. Dukes Gardens on the campus of Duke University in Durham. This exquisite garden (really four distinct gardens) is free and open to the public and students to enjoy all year round. It was named one of the top ten public gardens in the United States by Tripadvisor.com.
During the three hours or so that we spent wandering around the 55-acre space, I enjoyed watching how a diverse group of people interacted with the garden. Students found private nooks to study for final exams. Others were jogging along the paths, dodging high school girls in vibrant-colored prom dresses that matched the flowers who were having their pictures taken. Families were picnicking and young children were fishing and enjoying the wildlife. Brides and grooms posed at lovely garden focal points to have cherished wedding photos made. Older folks sat on benches and watched the birds and the butterflies flitting around. The gardens provided the perfect backdrop for people to interact with others or just relax.
Families enjoying picnicking and feeding the ducks at the Sarah P. Dukes Gardens. (Images: Bonnie Helander)
The gardens on the Duke campus are a lovely place to get the perfect wedding shot! (Image: Bonnie Helander)
A high school girl, decked out in prom dress, gets her time in front of the camera lens. (image: Bonnie Helander)
Many studies have documented the amazing benefits of public gardens, parks and natural spaces. They connect us to the natural environment and all the health benefits that nature supplies including fresh air, sunshine, exercise, the reduction of blood pressure and the sense of nourishing our souls. Beautiful and well-kept public spaces increase our town pride, raise property values and help reduce crime. Gardens add beauty to our lives and provide places of tranquility and relaxation.
One of the best and most comprehensive books on advocating well-designed parks, gardens and public spaces, is Parks, Plants and People: Beautifying the Urban Landscape, by Lynden Miller. (Norton/2009) This book will give you lots of ideas on not only promoting more public natural spaces in your own hometown but ideas to make your own personal garden more beneficial to your family and friends.
Take a look at some people enjoying public gardens…
Girls picnicking and checking their social media sites at the Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville. (Image: Bonnie Helander)
Left: hiking a trail at Dunaway Gardens in Newnan; Right: Enjoying a rest duirng a garden visit. (Images: Bonnie Helander)
Left:Children decked out in Sunday finery enjoy feeding Koi at Missouri Botanical Garden. Right: Children hiking along a creek at The Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina. (Images: Bonnie Helander)
Small boy fascinated with the garden train at Cheekwood. (Image: Bonnie Helander)
Start children out early experiencing the wonder of the natural world by taking them to explore a public garden. (Image: Bonnie Helander)