Daily Garden 043 – Duke Farms, NJ

June 2, 2009

Wow, I wish I had known of this garden before it was dismantled. This is part of the currently closed Duke Farms in NJ, it is the former home of Doris Duke. The gardens are closed for renovation and scheduled to re-open in 2010.
Duke Farms gardens before closing

Image by B l a c k m a g i c

Quite controversially the organization that manages the property has opted to remodel the gardens into something ‘green’ rather than restore or preserve them.
I am not sure that I understand the goals of the new gardens, but my gut tells me that the old ones should have been preserved. Gardens, to me, are like great art, you don’t see the Louvre staff changing up the Mona Lisa do you? Do you agree? Have you ever been to Duke Farms?
More information about the gardens and their supposed eventual re-opening can be found at the Duke Farms website.
There is also considerable information about the presumably lost effort to save them here and lots of pictures of what once was here.

REgister now!

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  1. I agree. I enjoy seeing gardens “of their time” when I’m touring. Especially gardens designed for specific sites and specific people. Even if they’re not “green” or “sustainable” they are genuine and represent the intent of its designer and its patron.

  2. My gut agrees with your gut. They could have “greened” things up while still preserving the original gardens (i.e. using collected rain water, organic fertilizers, etc).

  3. invisiblebees says:

    While visiting friends in NJ three/four years ago, we spent an afternoon here. Of course, it was an incredible estate with great bones — you could sense Doris Duke’s original vision and expression of the garden. It will be a curious thing to see how *they* reinvent the gardens.

    …Like you and the other commenters, I’m a bit sentimental about gardens and gardeners’ intentions and about the historical significance of authentically managed and restored gardens. So I hope Duke Gardens doesn’t lose the sense of another time and place that came through when I visited.

  4. I am very lucky. My current assistant was curating gardener for the Italian garden in the Duke greenhouses for several years. She brings incredible experience to my small business that I am grateful for every day.

    The greenhouses when they were last open cost in excess of $800,000 to heat, were in need of massive repair and I think it was just too costly to continue them since they were really the only access the public had to this amazing piece of property. Duke Farms is becoming a much needed environmental center with public access, something it never had before. I think that, in my Garden State, is a good thing.

  5. Raymond Mlynczak says:

    The world has lost a great living work of art. It was gutted by people who are only interested in power and money. Go to to see what has happened. Check the names of the board of directors. Look them up in wikipedia – some of them have tried to destroy the economies of the earth – the rest by association must belong to the “greed is good” group also. My rant is over – it will be lost in an endless pile of data that clogs the net. I am ashamed to be a human.

    A precious living work of art was destroyed and all that is left are excuses.

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