Inside the geodesic dome that dominates the grounds nearest the entrance, you can walk quietly among dripping tropical plants and delicate tree-hugging flowers. You can feed the koi at the Japanese garden with its huge pond in the back area of the grounds, although they are most responsive in summer when they’re just plain greedy. You can amuse yourself with the Garden’s popular maze or visit the herb garden. In summer, huge Amazonian water lilies spread across the shallow reflecting pools in front of the geodesic dome. Nearby is a field filled with a variety of flowering rose bushes. And there are the sculptures to be found at various locations around the Gardens.
The Missouri Botanical Gardens has a dry name, but it is a beautiful island in a residential section of St Louis now celebrating its 150th anniversary.
The Garden was opened to the public June 15, 1959 and has operated uninterrupted for 150 years, longer than any other similar botanical garden in the United States.
Naturally, special activities and events are scheduled throughout the year under the theme “Missouri Botanical Garden” Green for 150 Years.”
English-native Henry Shaw came to St Louis in 1819 and set up a successful business. He retired before he was 40 and used his wealth to travel the world, with especial interest in the great gardens of Europe. He created the Missouri Botanical Gardens on what is today 79 acres.
A 20 foot by 20 foot floral clock featuring seasonal flowers of varying types and colors will be on display between April and October. Floral clocks gained popularity in 1903 England and a floral clock was a feature of the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair.
Shaw’s personal handwritten journals of his travels in Europe in the 1850’s will be made public in 2009 on the Gardens website at www.mobot.org.
An audiotour of the Gardens by cellphone conducted as if by Shaw is featured this year.
Heirloom vegetables dating from the late 19th Century will be on display at the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening.
Henry’s Garden will feature 800 orchids between January 13th and March 15th in a formal Victorian setting. The Holiday Flower and Train Show November 25th through January 3d will feature the Gardenland Express with colorful flowers surrounding G-scale model trains making calls at various mini-scenes of Garden structures surfaced with natural materials.
A first-of-its-kind lecture series, The Global Garden, will feature six prominent experts speaking important issues affecting people, plants, and the planet.
Several photographic exhibits this year will focus on plants with fine art orchid photography (Jan 9-Mar 29), National Geographic images from Latin America (Apr 3-Jun 28), nature photography of Madagascar (Oct 1-Nov 15), and original art and illustrations on endangered plants from around the world.
There are even more events and activities highlighted on the Gardens website.
The Missouri Botanical Gardens is located at 4344 Shaw Boulevard in south St Louis, less than a 10 minute drive from downtown on I-44. Open year-round 9am to 5pm, closed only for Christmas. Don’t miss a visit to the superb gift shop.
Admission is $8 for adults, free for kids under 12. City and county residents receive admission discounts. Some events have special rates.