Have a Greenhouse Gas!

Nothing Al Gore would get on your case about.

The truly magnificent Indoor Display Gardens at Duke Farms in Hillsborough will close indefinitely after May 25th as part of a massive renovation transforming the 2,740-acre property into an environmental showcase and learning center.

Until then the gardens will be open for free self-guided tours.


RESERVATIONS are required and can be booked online or by calling (908-722-3700).


 Photos, from top:

The American Colonial Garden, with a magnolia tree, hydrangeas, and ivy.

The Chinese Garden, with red and black bamboo, spoon mums, and a carp pond.

The Semi-Tropical Garden, with jacaranda trees, bird-of-paradise plants, and tree ferns.

The Japanese Garden, with azaleas, primrose, crocus, miniature Iris, and a teahouse.

(There are also Italian, French, English, Edwardian, Desert, Tropical, and Indo-Persian gardens.)


Here is more information, from Duke Farms….

Hillsborough, NJ (March 2, 2008)– Duke Farms announced today an expansive and bold new vision for the 2,740-acre property, in which it will refocus its programs and operations to become an environmental showcase and learning center. This new direction marks the culmination of an extensive strategic planning process and the beginning of a transitional phase for Duke Farms, which will include a period of construction, phasing out some tours and activities, creating partnerships with leading nonprofits, and expanding environmental programs and self-guided public access over time.

“Duke Farms has always been committed to the environment, but we’re taking our vision to a whole new level of green,” said Timothy Taylor, executive director of Duke Farms. “We will be developing new programs and opportunities for families, students and professionals to put on their hiking shoes, get their hands dirty and join us in becoming informed – and inspired – stewards of the earth.”

In the future, all visitors will begin their trip to Duke Farms at a newly renovated “green” orientation center, which will be housed in a 22,000-square-foot building currently known as the Farm Barn. From there, visitors will be able to embark on numerous paths or hop aboard sustainably-powered trams to explore the property’s diverse landscapes and habitats. The orientation center is expected to open in the spring of 2010.

“For the first time since Buck Duke closed the park at Duke Farms nearly 100 years ago, hundreds of acres of trails will be open for visitors to walk, bike and hike on their own,” said Taylor. “For us and our visitors, increased access to the property is one of the most exciting aspects of the new vision for Duke Farms.”

Bringing this new vision to life will mean significant changes at Duke Farms over the next two years. The first major change will be the conclusion in May of tours of the display garden greenhouses. A re-configured version of the display gardens will be moved to a different greenhouse conservatory, which was built in 1902 and will be renovated to improve the energy-efficiency and environmental sustainability of the gardens. The gardens also will be expanded to include beautiful outdoor gardens, and they are expected to open to the public in the spring of 2010 as well.

“This is a bittersweet milestone for us. On one hand, this is the first step in increasing the public’s access to the 2,740 acres that make up this unique property. On the other, it’s the final months of the gardens being on display in the greenhouses that have enchanted visitors since 1964,” said Taylor. “To celebrate both the history and future of the display gardens at Duke Farms, we are pleased to be able to offer free tours of the gardens from now through May.”

Through May 25th, the Indoor Display Gardens at Duke Farms will be open free of charge to the public. The one-hour walking tour will be self-directed, with docents stationed throughout the eleven display gardens. Reservations are required due to capacity limitations and can be made at www.dukefarms.org. Walks along the 1.5-mile “Walk on the Wild Side” nature trail also will be free.

Preparations for renovation and construction will begin this summer. Throughout the construction period, the Duke Farms Web site will provide the latest information about tour schedules and programs. The Estate Park & Nature Tour will be open on a limited basis, and nature programs, bike tours and horticultural classes will continue to be offered.

To complement and expand its program offerings, Duke Farms also is establishing unique partnerships with organizations such as the New Jersey Audubon Society, Raritan Piedmont Wildlife Habitat Partnership, and the Rutgers University School of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Office of Continuing Education. Beginning in 2008 and continuing over the next several years, the partners will introduce new activities at Duke Farms for families and professionals alike, such as expanded nature programs, community garden plots, organic gardening and farming programs, and courses and seminars in agriculture, horticulture and wildlife ecology. To serve as a demonstration site for sustainability, Duke Farms also will undertake various renewable energy, habitat restoration and ecological research projects.

For nearly 100 years, Duke Farms has been a destination for the residents of New Jersey and beyond. As one of the largest privately owned parcels of undeveloped land in New Jersey, it is rich in agricultural, horticultural and ecological resources. From picnicking on the grounds in the days of James B. Duke to bike riding and moonlight walks today, Duke Farms has been a haven in the midst of residential and commercial development. Its 2,740 acres include vast and varied landscapes that have become a critical hub of open space and wildlife habitat over the last century. For more information or to book a visit, please visit www.dukefarms.org.


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