Iris ensata 'Variegata'
Welcome to the website of the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum. Although technically this template has been designed by Google to serve bloggers, our intention is to take advantage of the user friendly options and provide information about the Arboretum and, through images and slideshows, portray some of the people, places and activities we're involved with. Feedback is easy; anyone with observations about the Arboretum, or public gardening in general, is encouraged to submit their thoughts and we'll be happy to dialog. This is a site under construction-- a playground of sorts, so redundancies, discrepancies, errors and omissions are likely. We don't mind being corrected, especially where plant i.d. is concerned, so please dialog with us.


The William Louis Culberson Asiatic Arboretum is a featured collection of Duke University's Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Located in Durham, North Carolina, the Garden is situated in the Piedmont physiographic region of the southeastern United States at about 550 feet (168m) elevation. The climate is warm temperate with four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and humid with high temperatures frequently rising into the mid and upper 90's F (34-36C),....lows at night... winter minimums typically are around 10F (-12C), or USDA Hardiness Zone 7B. Precipitation occurs throughout the year but is heaviest in the summer months, in the form of afternoon storms, and least in the autumn. The Arboretum was established in 1984 and today is home to 2000 ornamental and botanically interesting Asian species and selections.


The Arboretum's vision and collections statement can be found under Labels on the sidebar.


Curator: Paul Jones
Horticulturists: Michelle Stay, Michael Patrick
Garden Assistant: Sally Boesch
Volunteers: General Horticulture-- Margaret McCotter, Betsy Brawley, Lois Ballen, Debbie Schwartz, Tina Godwin, Mary Dawson, Brian and Aneila Avery-Jones; Moss Gardener-- Barbara Kremen; Nursery-- Joe Rees
Student Asistant, Kim Le

(photos TBA in Staff slideshow)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March Madness

An uncommonly long and consistently cold winter (as compared with recent years anyway) has finally eased, and the result is shaping up to be a remarkable early spring in the Arboretum.

The Arboretum is filled with species from a variety of climates. Some of these species have shallow cold dormancies and a tendency to flower and even leaf out after exposure to only a modest amount of winter chilling. In a typical Durham winter, cold temperatures will abate for a week or two here and there during January and February, teasing into flower magnolias, daphnes, apricots, camellias, et.al.

This past winter was largely without warm breaks, meaning that flower buds held tight longer. Thus, the usual pattern of sporadic flowering beginning in January is instead a March event, a sort of floral madness. Now, if we can just ease on into April without a late freeze....

For a sample of spring in the Arboretum, watch the Spring Begins slide show included on this blog. pj

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Guest from Japan

The Arboretum recently hosted a distinguished guest from Toyama, Japan-- horticulturist Katsuhito Nakasone (right in photo). Mr. Nakasone is CEO of Nakasone Landscapes, a family business that for more than 50 years has specialized in creating gardens in traditional Japanese style. His two-week stay in Durham was made possible with the help of the Durham and Toyama Sister Cities programs. Also joining us for several days was Masashi (Mike) Oshita (left), a professional Japanese gardener now residing in Asheville, NC.

The Arboretum is currently planning for the construction of a Japanese-inspired garden about one acre in size. The Durham-Toyama Sister Cities Japanese Pavilion, which opened in October of 2007, will serve as the centerpiece of this future garden. Mr. Nakasone was invited to serve as an advisor during this early planning phase.

Among his many gardening talents, Mr. Nakasone is a skilled artisan in placement of rocks, construction with bamboo, and training of trees. He is also a devotee of chanoyu, the practice of Japanese tea. As such, he is an authority on roji, specialized landscapes associated with tea and cha-shitsu, or Japanese tea houses (huts). In addition to advising the staff on matters of the garden, Mr. Nakasone also joined the Gardens' tea group and served as their guest host for a couple of public tea gatherings.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Platycrater arguta

Strolling around the Gardens nursery this morning I happened upon this exciting new shrub-- new to me anyway, Platycrater arguta. Platycrater is in the Saxifrage family, and as you can see from the image it's flowers resemble those of Deutzia and Philadelphus, two other shrubby saxifrags. Can't claim to know a lot about this shrub, seeing as how I just discovered it myself, but from various websites I glean that: it's native to Japan and several provinces in eastern China; it's certainly hardy in central North Carolina (JCRaulston Arboretum website has images of a beautiful specimen in their Raleigh garden; it's easy to grow; and it's awfully cute. Looks to mature around 3-5 feet in height. If you want one, Platycrater seems to be around and available, heck it may even be common. I picked up my little gem from Scott McMahan, a friend and owner of McMahan's Nursery in Clermont, GA. I noticed that Asiatica Nursery also lists it, and Arrowhead Alpines. The only common name I've come across is Tea-of-Heaven-- apparently the leaves can be used to make a tea-like brew. Hydrangea serrata, a relative of Platycrater, is also sometimes referred to as "tea of heaven". Plant diversity, isn't it great!