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Rail Paul

Duke Gardens Open House

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Doris Duke's mansion will be open for tours beginning in July. The luxuriously sculpted property will also be open for human browsing. Guests were previously restricted to escorted garden tours only.

 

Money may not buy happiness, but in the case of tobacco heiress Doris Duke -- in her day, one of the richest women in the world -- it did buy seclusion from a raucous world, a pampered, globe-trotting lifestyle and the means to amass collections of exquisite objects from around the world.

 

While Duke owned estates in Rhode Island and Hawaii (not to mention pied-à-terre in New York and Beverly Hills), Duke Farms in Hillsborough was the place she and her parents called home. After Doris Duke's death in 1993 at the age of 80, the bucolic estate passed into the hands of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The property has long been sequestered behind stone walls and off limits to the public except for guided tours, begun in 1964, of display gardens maintained in a complex of greenhouses

 

 

Duke Farms Site

 

Star Ledger Article

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The original furniture has been auctioned off, so why bother to go inside? By the way, the property has a naturalist in residence and is one of the best birding venues in New Jersey. In fact, Lippy just informed me that their fall migration naturalist-guided tours are already fully subscribed.

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The pictures in the dead tree version showed some furniture in the rooms open for view (a small number of the 60 or so in the house), but the rooms themselves looked quite interesting.

 

The area north and west of the gardens is characterized by large estates and many ponds, with a mixture of rolling hills and fields / forest. It would seem like ideal birding territory.

 

The well regarded restaurant Ixora is just a few minutes away, as is the Ryland Inn and Bistro. Harvest Moon and others are a bit more distant.

 

 

Ixora's Info

Edited by Rail Paul
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Although public access to the Duke mansion is now limited, the adjacent Duke Farms offers a public glimpse of the property. And, access to the eagle cam. There are currently two hatchlings.

 

The eagle parents thwarted an attack by a red tailed hawk on the nest. After a brief tussle, the hawk became dinner. The eagles are now reported to be dining on local trout. The tussle is embedded in a link in the article.

 

http://www.nj.com/somerset/index.ssf/2013/03/duke_farms_bald_eaglets_surviv.html#incart_river

 

The eagle cam:

 

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/eagle-cam

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There was this place my wife and I stayed in the Adirondaks once. The Elk Lake Lodge. On the whole, one of my favorite places I've ever stayed.

 

BUT.

 

You ate your meals in this dining room with big windows out on the surrounding forest and lake. The windows were lined with little feedboxes to attract hummingbirds.

 

One morning, one of the hummingbirds attracted to the one of the feedboxes was defective in some way. The other hummingbirds, following the hummingbird natural directive, attacked it at length and, finally, killed it.

 

This was a bit much for the Elk Lake Lodge crowd to watch during breakfast. They/we all wanted nature, but not nature red in tooth and claw.

 

I myself thought it was pretty gorey and hard to take. But nothing compared with the shake-and-bake chicken they served for dinner one night.

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