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.
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)
Sunday, September 27, 2009
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
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!
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Although tropical and sub-tropical, and assumed intolerant of cold, several species of banana, Genera Musa and Musella, survive quite well in Durham. Currently in the Arboretum collection are Musa basjoo, aka Hardy Japanese Banana, M. velutina, M. sikkimensis, and Musella lasiocarpa, the Dwarf Yunnan Banana. Bananas are valuable in the garden for the large foliar texture they impart, and the tropical hints they add to the landscape. Culturally, they can be treated as large, very large!, perennials, and require little more than good light, moderate water, and average soil-- though they do repay the gardener that treats them to abundant water and food. As for cold, a generous winter mulch in the first year or two is beneficial.
Collections Plan for the William Louis Culberson Asiatic Arboretum
Vision statement for the Arboretum
The vision of the William Louis Culberson Asiatic Arboretum is to create an environment conducive to contemplation and learning in which the beauty, value, and diversity of plants may be discovered.
Purpose of Collections
The Purpose of the Plant Collections of the Asiatic Arboretum is to promote a better understanding about the beauty and diversity of the flora of temperate Southeast Asia, and to demonstrate the relationship between the floras of eastern North America and
The Purpose is achieved in the following ways:
a. Through the display of a broad selection of Asian species, and hybrids or garden selections of Asian parentage, that are hardy out-of-doors in Piedmont North Carolina, and which are generally recognized as aesthetically desirable landscape plants; [Education and Aesthetics]
b. By representing all the Plant Families native to temperate Southeast Asia that are hardy in
c. By demonstrating the biogeographical relationships between the floras of southeastern Asia and eastern
d. By creating displays that demonstrate traditional interactions between Asian cultures and their biotic environment; [Education and Aesthetics]
e. By developing “Species/Hybrid” collections to serve as tools enabling educators to stimulate interest in plant diversity, plant systematics, and principles of horticulture; [Education and Aesthetics]
f. By serving as a trial garden for newly described and/or less well-known species and botanical varieties for which potential usefulness as landscape plants has yet to be established; [Education and Aesthetics]
g. By enhancing the pleasure of leisure time spent in the Gardens through the use of seasonal displays of extraordinary showy taxa. [Aesthetics]
Plant acquisitions are considered for both the Aesthetic and Educational value they will add to the collections, and it should be kept in mind that the collections serve both purposes. Thus, while the desire is always to increase the diversity of the collections, it may be that, for landscaping goals, multiples of a given taxa are used repeatedly.
The design of the landscape and the placement of plants within it is intended to be naturalistic, vs. formal, thereby enhancing the aesthetic qualities of contemplation, inspiration, peacefulness. With few exceptions, the desirable native plants naturally occurring on the site are conserved. Generally speaking, the Asiatic plant collections are incorporated among the native flora.
Thematic Areas: Purpose of Plant Collection
The JSG is typical of such gardens as they exist in
The CWG exemplifies the warm temperate montane flora of southern
Temperate Montane Flora of
Having in excess of 6000 species, the temperate flora of
a. examples of disjunct species;
b. genera not well-represented in the
c. species included as a part of any “Species/Hybrid” thematic collection of the Arboretum;
d. species listed in Addendum I, “Selected Species List of Fanjingshan”, a typical southern Chinese mountain;
e. as available, species of documented wild origin will be given preference to undocumented plants.
Plants in cultivation, natives and non-native, will be used in the CWG to depict man’s interaction with the environment. Races (local selections) of crops long-cultivated in
Expanded collections of select, showy perennials are created as educational tools. The displays demonstrate the changes and improvements possible through horticultural manipulation by contrasting examples of “wild-type” species with both early and recent examples of selections and hybrids. Example collections include the genera Hemerocallis, Hosta, Epimedium, and the species Iris ensata.
++Biogeographical Relationships Display:
The “Floras East and West” display demonstrates the biogeographical relationships between the floras of eastern North America and
Sources for plant material are of two types:
a. sources which can provide data documenting a plants wild collection origin and provenance, and
b. sources of cultivated plants of garden origin, or a plant species but without wild documentation.
Discussion: the dual Purposes of Education and Aesthetics dictate that sources of plant material for the Arboretum will be of both types a. and b. Being thematic collections focused primarily on education, it is important that “wild-type” species form the core of the Chinese garden, the Species/Hybrid displays, and the Biogeographical Relationships display. For these collections, the preference is for examples of documented wild origin that have been legally collected and imported. It is understood, however, that this paper trail is not possible for some species necessary to complete a display. In some cases, it may be appropriate to replace non-documented accessions with documented accessions as they become available.
Correct identification is always an issue when many different sources are used. It will be the responsibility of the staff of the