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Travel Palette: Duke Gardens

Cherry Blossom Color Palette - Travel Palette
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Soft, Light, and Earthy.

This week’s travel palette is inspired by this image taken at the Duke Gardens at Duke University. Walking through a garden filled with blooming cherry blossom trees was a springtime dream back in 2019 when I visited North Carolina. These beautiful blooms within the gardens were the source of this cherry blossom inspired color palette. I don’t know about you, but I have a sweet spot for flowers. There is something so peaceful, simple, beautiful, and calming about flowers. Especially when one is surrounded by nature. I can’t help but take a step back and appreciate our Earth. Thanks Earth, you a real one. 

Being able to visit the gardens while the trees were in bloom was just the cherry on top.  (I know, I know. You didn’t think I’d get through the post without at least one pun did you?) Learn a little bit about Duke Gardens and the process I went through to create this palette. Oh, and all the products featured are described and linked in case you want to bring some cherry blossom vibes to your next project. This palette is packed with newer products!  

The travel palettes series was created to expand creative horizons and explore the correlation between travel, inspiration, colors, textures, and design.

 Travel Palette - Duke Gardens - Cherry Blossom Inspired Palette  Design to Five - Cherry Blossom Inspired Palette

About Duke Gardens

V is V content. Happy Trees, Happy V.

The name is Duke Gardens, Sarah P. Duke Gardens. (Okay, maybe it sounds better when James Bond does it.) The Duke Gardens were created in the 1930s. The idea of having a public garden was brought to life by one faculty member at the university, Dr. Frederic M. Hanes. Dr. Hanes was a plant-lover and green thumb who had longed to have a garden at the university. He convinced his friend, Sarah P. Duke, who was a window of one of the founders, to help fund the garden. The garden was created in 1935 but it was in pretty rough shape by 1936 due to poor weather and soil conditions.

When Sarah P. Duke passed, Dr. Hanes reached out to her daughter to revive the garden and rebuild it as a memorial. The garden was relocated and constructed by the landscape designer, Ellen Biddle Shipman. Ellen Biddle Shipman helped pave the way for women in landscape architecture, as she was one of the first in the predominately male occupation. You go, Ellen.

Duke Gardens has grown over the decades and now spans over 55 acres. The gardens are made of up four areas: The Historic Gardens, Doris Duke Center, H.L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, and the W.L. Culberson Asiatic Arboretum. The gardens are part of the Duke Campus and it is free to attend. More info about the gardens can be found here.

During my springtime visit, I enjoyed exploring the different areas, especially the Asiatic Arboretum. (It wasn’t complete without some cherry blossoms.) The Asiatic Arboretum made me reminisce about my study abroad experience in China. 

Want to tour around the gardens for yourself while at home? You can virtually visit the gardens here!

Looking out on the bridge in the Asiatic Arboretum. Cherry Blossoms, I see you.


This week’s travel palette was inspired by the beautiful cherry blossom trees in the Duke Gardens. The soft blushing pinks and creamy white flower petals were captivating and were the main inspiration for the palette. The warm browns in the tree trunk, vibrant greens on some stems of the flowers in the grass, and muted taupe tones in the sidewalk provide the additional colors in this palette. The lighter airy-er colors paired with the deep brown and soft green provide balance and earthiness to the palette.  The sources of each color are indicated below and then matched with a Pantone color. 


Cherry Blossom Color Palette





Design to Five - Cherry Blossom Palette This palette is not shy of texture. The core palette colors are pink, green, and white and are represented in the varying patterns and textures. The lighter pinks and whites are balanced out with the green upholsteries and darker wood. By sourcing all the colors from nature, the lighter airer materials still pair with the greens and earthy brown for a coordinated and cohesive palette.  The dotted and speckled motif is present in the various textured upholsteries. They all contain the core palette colors and help the pieces tie into each other. The product info for each material is described and linked in the photos below.        


Palette Materials

 TREE TRUNK: Wood Plank Flooring

Carlisle Wide Plank Floors – Carriage House – Presque Isle 

Representing the tree trunk of the cherry blossom trees is this sample from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors. This warm mid-tone wood also has some subtle gray undertones. The wood flooring introduces some natural grain and wood tones into the palette.

Carlisle Wide Plank Floors – Carriage House – Presque Isle (Photo Source)
Cherry Blossoms: Pink Patterned and Textured Upholstery

Newer Product Alert! Maharam – Cosset – Ballet 

Loving this upholstery from Maharam. The pattern and color uniquely blend pink, cream, and black. I love how dimensional this fabric is and it’s chenille soft touch.

Maharam – Cosset – Ballet (Photo Source)
Cherry Blossoms: Chilewich

Newer Product Alert! Chilewich – Wave – Cherry Blossom

 I couldn’t create this cherry blossom inspired palette without this Chilewich Wave in the Color Cherry Blossom. This sample perfectly represents the subtle pinks and creamy whites that makeup cherry blossoms. The material has a subtle waving pattern which can also read as a linen look from afar. 

Chilewich – Wave – Cherry Blossom (Photo Source)
White Cherry Blossoms: White Wallcovering

 Newer Product Alert! MDC – Bolta Contract – Malta Linen – Ivory Hue

This MDC wallcovering, Malta Linen has a beautiful linen pattern in a soft ivory white. It’s perfect for tying together all the whites in the palette.  It also makes me want to travel to Malta even more now!

MDC – Bolta Contract – Malta Linen – Ivory Hue (Photo Source)



Grass: Textured Green Upholstery

Newer Product Alert! Bernhardt Textiles – Patina – Moss  

Hello texture! I love how this upholstery also helps tie in several colors in the palette. The rich, yet soft green, white, gray, and black come together in this dynamic fabric. It is part of Bernhardt’s recently launched Lake Como collection. 

Bernhardt – Patina – Moss (Photo Source)
Flower Stems: Green Vinyl Upholstery

Wolf Gordon – Ansonia – Basil

Ansonia-Basil is a solid vinyl with a stunning green. It pulls out the green in the textured upholstery. Ansonia has 41 colorways for finding that other perfect coordinating color!

Wolf Gordon – Ansonia – Basil (Photo Source)
White Cherry Blossoms: White Textured Upholstery

Newer Product Alert! Maharam – Cosset – Whistle

Another colorway of Cosset is Cosset-Whistle. The blend of colors coordinate with the other upholstery and coordinating whites. Both colorways fit perfectly in the palette. 

Maharam – Cosset – Whistle (Photo Source)
Pink Petals: Glazed Tile

 Genrose – Quemere Designs – Pink Blush

Last but not least is this stunning tile from Genrose. The palette would not be complete without this handmade glazed tile in the color Pink Blush. It is the perfect color to round out this cherry blossom inspired palette.

Genrose – Quemere Designs – Pink Blush (Photo Source)


I hope you enjoyed this cherry blossom inspired color palette!  More travel palettes coming soon!

Check out my other palettes from my visit to North Carolina here: 

Travel Palette: North Carolina Museum of Art

Travel Palette: Downtown Durham



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Design to five is a blog enhancing the link between culture, travel, and design. The blog showcases products from local, sustainable, business from around the world, and travel-related content to encourage affordable, conscious, and educational adventures for design lovers.

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