Immerse Yourself in the Blomquist Gardens

Library exhibit explores the beauty of the Duke Gardens site and the botanist who made it possible

The most popular place to take a selfie on campus these days is the Chappell Family Gallery in Duke University Library, where stunning photographs and videos from the Blomquist Gardens of Natural Plants capture the natural beauty and sounds from the campus’ oasis that is home to more than 1,000 plants along with an assortment of bees, birds, butterflies and slugs.

The below 20-minute video of sights and sounds of the garden was taken by Hunter Stark, Trinity '18. The video won a 2018 Visual Studies Initiatives Award from the Art, Art History and Visual Studies Department. 

The video is part of the library exhibit, which comes on the 50th anniversary of the Blomquist gardens.  A digital version of the exhibit can be seen here.

Beyond showing off the gardens’ splendor, the exhibit also explores the legacy of Hugo L. Blomquist, the first professor of botany at Duke. A native of Sweden, Blomquist’s family name means “flowering twig” and was inspired by their farm called Blomåker. He came with his family to America in 1892, studied at Valparaiso University and the University of Chicago and joined the Trinity College faculty in 1920 just prior it becoming Duke University.

His research on the ferns and grasses of North Carolina raises the stature of that area of study and remain valuable to botanists today. After he died in 1964, friends started raising money for a section in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens to be named after him. The 6.5-acre Blomquist Gardens opened in 1968 specializing in native plants, many of which are unusual species rescued from land facing development.

The exhibit will be installed in the Chappell Gallery through October. But be sure to visit the real thing as well in Duke Gardens.