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Duke in the Gardens

Please note that this page is for Duke University and Health System only.
If you’re part of another college or university, click here.
If you’re not connected with a college or university, click here for our community partnerships information.

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 Duke groups for classes and events that take place at other locations.

Develop assignments making use of the Gardens, have class outdoors, create university-level field trips that complement your curriculum, hold wellness and cultural programs, conduct academic research in the Gardens and more. Programs can be self-guided or facilitated by Duke Gardens staff.  Duke Gardens also has seasonal work-study, volunteer and internship opportunities.

We require registration for many types of visits, including classes and assignments using the garden. Read below for more information about each of these possibilities, including registration requirements.  

Incoming Duke Student Orientation Groups

Thank you for the work you do organizing and leading orientation for new students! We're excited to welcome incoming students to our community with you.

All orientation groups interested in coming to Duke Gardens must submit a request form here, including visits for picnics and walks that you lead for your group.

All groups coming to Duke Gardens must start your visit with a brief orientation led by a Duke Gardens staff member, and you must follow our visitation policies during your time in the garden. If you’re interested, you can also request a facilitated tour/workshop or a hands-on volunteering opportunity. We do not have the capacity to provide any plants or planting supplies.

Please note: the deadline for finalized 2024 orientation visits is Friday, August 9. For the best chance of approval by this deadline, we strongly recommend submitting your request no later than Sunday, July 28. Earlier is better!

Academic Teaching & Class Assignments or Projects

Duke Gardens is a great place to hold your class or student assignments! We require registration for all of these, even if you’re not interested in Duke Gardens staff support for your visit.

Once a semester (for classes) or once a year (for other groups/projects) you must fill out this form to request approval to hold your class or do coursework in Duke Gardens. We ask that you submit the form at least two weeks in advance. We will try our best to accommodate requests with less notice, but it’s not always possible. 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 class/project, you can email Kati (she/her) at kati.henderson@duke.edu with the additional date & time and the name of the class/group, 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.

University 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.

Non-Academic Classes, Tours or Other Instructor-Led Meetings or Activities

All visits to Duke Gardens that are led by someone must be approved and registered. This includes any classes, tours, workshops, crafts and other activities that are led by Duke students, staff or faculty or by outside instructors.

Once a semester (for classes) or once a year (for other groups/projects) you must fill out this form to request approval to hold your program in Duke Gardens. We ask that you submit the form at least two weeks in advance. We will try our best to accommodate requests with less notice, but it’s not always possible. 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 group/project, you can email Kati (she/her) at kati.henderson@duke.edu 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.

University 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 program 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 during your time at Duke. 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.

Gardens Orientation
We’ll present a brief (15 minute) overview of Duke Gardens – the spaces and other resources available, the work we do, and how you can get more involved or connected during your time at Duke – and then take questions before sending everyone off to explore further.

  • Maximum group size is 150.

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.

COMING SOON: Rooted Responses to Climate Change
Learn about the impacts of climate change and the ways people are taking action to protect their communities and environment, both to address problems they’re already experiencing and stop new ones from occurring. We’ll look at examples of projects here in Duke Gardens and discuss other local and global efforts. You’ll spend time thinking about your connections to this work, individually and together as a group.

  • 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.

Conducting Research

As a living collection and public space, Duke Gardens serves as a site for many kinds of research. Duke Gardens' staff welcomes the opportunity to discuss your research and determine how it could be undertaken here. All research taking place in Duke Gardens must be approved and registered.

If you're looking for practice projects to give your students practical experience in research methods, Duke Gardens can provide many research topics for your students. We love to learn from these opportunities, too.

Please fill out this form to request permission to conduct research 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.

Have you conducted research at or about Duke Gardens? Please share your findings with us so we can put them to use! Email Kati (she/her) at kati.henderson@duke.edu.
Wellness Programs

All visits to Duke Gardens that are led by someone, including wellness programs, must be approved and pre-registered. This applies to all wellness programs taking place in Duke Gardens, even if they’re led by Duke staff, students or faculty.

Please fill out this form to request permission to hold your wellness 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 group, you can email Kati (she/her) at kati.henderson@duke.edu with the additional date & time and the name of the group, 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.

University 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 above.

Performances

Duke groups, or groups sponsored by a Duke department or other group, may request a partnership with Duke Gardens to hold a performance in the Fisher Amphitheater (location H4 on the Gardens map). Performances cannot take place without an approved Duke Gardens partnership.

All performances must be free to attend and open to drop-in attendees from the public.

Request a partnership to hold a performance in Duke Gardens here.

Art Activities

Approval and registration are required for art activities that are led by an instructor; please see the “Non-Academic 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. 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

Duke Gardens does not require registration 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. No cooking or alcohol is 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 find 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.

If you need location approval in order to register your picnic/social gathering with Duke Groups, please submit this form. On the question asking what kind of visit/partnership you're interested in, check "requesting approval for Duke Groups registration only."

Photography

Photography associated with academic classes does not need a permit. Instead, you’ll need to request registration as a class visit here. 

Indoor spaces 

Duke Gardens does not have indoor spaces available for uses such as classes, informal meetings, studying or student events, with minimal exceptions through partnerships. You can request a partnership here.

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.

Work-Study Opportunities

We have work-study opportunities available in horticulture, education, the Equity Through Stories Program, visitor engagement, media & communications and sometimes other departments as well.

All open work-study positions will be posted to the student employment site.

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.

 

 

CONTACT US

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 kati.henderson@duke.edu.