For Father's Day we took a trip down to Hillsborough, NJ and visited Duke Farms.
There is a lot of history behind the place, read here, but in a nutshell this tobacco/power company magnate left his daughter, the philanthropic heiress Doris Duke, some serious cash and property. The property in NJ was famous for its gardens which apparently trustees, newly appointed of course, closed in 2008 because you know, greed is an ugly thing. Anyway, Duke Farms has been converted into a more "stewards of the land" sort of situation which is fabulous, but probably not something Doris imagined or had specified in her will. Speaking of which, I found it amusing, in a dark way mind you, that Duke University in North Carolina contested the will saying they deserved some of the assets. Really? Really? Asses. But I digress...
The land itself is lovely and it is a free park where you can walk the immense property, take the tram or ride your bikes. You can actually bring your own or rent the bikes.
They have managed to get the outbuildings LEED platinum certified which is no small feat. We took a tram ride to the orchid conservatory and it was stunning. Miss Duke apparently adored orchids and she was a cultivator, propagator and hybridizer of the species.
I have never seen so many unusual orchids and the conservatory itself was hauntingly misty, the sounds of water fountains filling the space. People spoke in low voices and all you heard were cameras clicking. There were so many types of plants there and I loved the Spanish moss everywhere too. I would visit it everyday if I could.
My son was not as enthralled as I was, but he did love the water features.
So if you ever in NJ, stop by Duke Farms, you won't be disappointed.