See our hours & parking page for information on required use of PayByPhone for parking payment.

Community Partnerships with Duke Gardens

Please note that this page is only for groups not affiliated with a college or university. If you’re part of Duke University or Health System, click here. If you’re part of another college or university, click here.

Work with learning & visitor engagement staff to coordinate use of Duke Gardens as an expansive resource! Our outdoor learning spaces include sheltered sitting areas and Wi-Fi and electrical outlets, in addition to walking paths and garden displays.  We also work with community partners for classes and events that take place at other locations.

Read below for more information about these possibilities, including how to submit your request.

Classes, Tours or Other Instructor-Led Programs

All visits to Duke Gardens that are led by someone must be approved and registered. This includes any classes, tours, workshops and other activities.

Please fill out this form to request permission to hold your program in Duke Gardens. We ask that you submit the form at least two weeks in advance. Requests that are submitted at least one month in advance are more likely to be approved, and we accept requests up to one year in advance.

After you submit that form and your request is approved, if you’d like to add repeat visits for the same program, you can email Kati (she/her) at with the additional date & time and the name of the group/project, or any questions you have.

Please note that the garden is always open to the public and spaces can’t be reserved to the exclusion of other visitors.

Visits must follow all Gardens group visit policies. These include staying on paths, not picking any parts of plants, bringing out what you bring in (including trash), and not bringing in any equipment (including tables/chairs, mics/speakers, and games/sports equipment). Exceptions may be possible with a close partnership and training by Gardens staff; please inquire about your particular interests in your request.

If you’d like to request a program led by Duke Gardens facilitators, please see the section below.

Workshops, Tours and Programs Led by Duke Gardens Facilitators

Groups can request a program led by our facilitators. Descriptions for our regular programs are below, and we're also happy to do a custom tour for a particular group's interest/theme. Groups can also request that one of our staff members lead a different kind of program or one that's in a location other than Duke Gardens.

Request a Duke Gardens facilitated program here.

In our programs, Duke Gardens facilitators will share information about the garden during a tour, including ways to get involved. These programs are also designed to incorporate practices of mindfulness & observation, and to build your group's connections with each other. The program facilitator can incorporate specific content of interest to your group as requested.

Grounding in the Gardens
Build your connection with plants and place, for your personal health and the health of this community. Learn about Duke Gardens and the area we're situated in more broadly while we reflect on our various relationships with the land as a practice of being thoughtful community members.

  • Length of time is flexible. Full program requires a minimum of one hour and can be up to four  hours; shortened program can be a minimum of 20 minutes.  
  • Maximum group size is 25. Larger groups must be split up and would have to attend this program in a rotation.

Queer Ecologies for Community
Learn some concepts and examples from queer ecology, and put them to practical use in finding a personal home within environmental relationships. Build your understanding of the immense diversity and interconnections in the living world while we practice ways to build strong networks with each other and the plants & environment around us.

  • Length of time is flexible. Full program requires a minimum of one hour and can be up to four  hours; shortened program can be a minimum of 20 minutes.
  • Maximum group size is 25. Larger groups must be split up and would have to attend this program in a rotation.

General Tours
If you want an overview of Duke Gardens beyond the Gardens Orientation and do not want a facilitated program like Grounding in the Gardens or Queer Ecologies for Community, please see information about our general tours here. We recommend this option for groups looking to have a lighter social experience during their time here, rather than actively engaging with each other and the plants & environment of Duke Gardens.

Indoor Spaces

Duke Gardens does not have indoor spaces available for community uses except through rare approved partnerships. Request a partnership here.

Art Activities

Approval and registration are required for art activities that are led by an instructor; please see the “Classes, Tours or Other Instructor-Led Programs” section above.

Registration is not required for personal art activities, but you must follow all of our group visit policies. Some highlighted policies are:

  • You and all of your supplies, including easels, must be on paths or lawns and not in garden beds.  
  • You cannot block path access for other visitors.
  • Be careful not to get any paint or other materials on any plants, including grass, or on paths or structures. Do not dump paint, water, or other materials onto the ground, including grass or gutters, or into any sinks at the Gardens. Any small materials you drop must be picked up and removed from the garden.
Picnics & Social Gatherings

Registration is not required for these visits, but you must follow all of our group visit policies. Some highlighted policies are:

  • Duke Gardens is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. Your visit must happen during this time, including any aspects before and after the gathering itself.
  • Groups cannot reserve or block off any locations for your exclusive use. If you are hoping to use a particular location you can check on it when you arrive and share it if there’s space available, but you cannot tell anyone else to leave either before or during your visit.
  • Possible picnic or group gathering locations are the South Lawn (named on the Gardens map), the lawn next to the Butterfly Garden (near H14 on the Gardens map) and the lawn around the Dawn Redwood (near H3 on the Gardens map).
  • Groups of more than 25 people must split up into smaller groups while in the garden.
  • If you will be having food, you must bring it in yourself. Catering and delivery are not allowed. Cooking and alcohol are not permitted.
  • You may bring blankets or mats to sit on, as well as any personal items. Materials and equipment that are not allowed include tables & chairs, mics & speakers, signs, decorations like balloons/banners, confetti, and games/sports equipment. You may bring in your own portable chair in the case of accessibility needs.
  • Duke Gardens is not an appropriate location for field days or playing games like Frisbee, spikeball or soccer. Please look at another lawn on campus or a city park for these activities.
  • You must collect all waste and take it out with you or place it inside a recycling or trash can (please do not leave anything next to a can).
  • Do not dump any ice or drinks onto the ground, including on grass or gutters, or into sinks in the Gardens. This damages plants and can disrupt the functionality of our infrastructure.
Volunteer Opportunities

We have volunteer opportunities available in horticulture, education, visitor engagement, media & communications and sometimes other departments as well.

Volunteering at Duke Gardens typically requires an ongoing commitment to a regular shift and is for individuals. Currently, one-time and group volunteer opportunities are rare.

Please see our open volunteer opportunities here.

Summer Internships

We have a 12-week summer horticulture internship program for those interested in gaining experience in a public botanic garden.

For more information, including how to apply, visit our summer internship page.



If you have any remaining questions or would like to discuss possibilities for your interest, you can contact Kati Henderson (she/her) at 919-886-3816 or