The Missouri Botanical Garden, (us St. Louis folks call it Shaw’s Garden after its founder Henry Shaw), is one of the world’s premier botanical gardens. It’s the home of Bucky Fuller’s geodesic dome, the Climatron, which houses a mini-tropical jungle. And in September every year the Japanese festival there is one of the biggest and most attended in the world. The garden has also been at the forefront of plant research and preserving the world’s rain forests for many years. In the summertime the place is bustling with visitors and all kinds of festivals and activities, but not too many people think about going there in the wintertime.
Just strolling through the garden during the holiday season would be well worth the price of admission, but this winter there are a few extra treats for the holidays. Unique wreaths designed by 12 of the area’s top floral designers will be on display from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. through January 4th. You can enter a silent bid for a chance to purchase one of the designer’s creations. Silent bids will be accepted throughout the exhibit. Winners will be notified after January 5th. The holiday wreath exhibit is located in the upper level of the Ridgeway Center and is included with the price of admission to the garden. ($8 for adults; $4 for St. Louis and St. Louis County residents. Children 12 and under and garden members get in free.
The “Gardenland Express” flower and train show will also be at the garden through January 4th. The exhibit features eight G scale model trains set in detailed winter scenes and highlighted with displays of poinsettias and flowering plants. In all there will be some 1,500 feet of elevated railroad tracks. An entire winter wonderland is created including an animated gondola taking passengers to the mountaintop while tiny ice skaters skate down a nearby slope. Residents of the intricately detailed village stroll about, doing their holiday shopping while miniature entertainer’s play for soldiers in uniform, just like the opening scene of “White Christmas.”
Visitors can peer into the frosted window of the town’s store and see an even tinier replica of a toy train. The store is festooned with wreaths and Norman Rockwell paintings adorn the walls. Not to be outdone, the floral arrangements are quite spectacular too. Red, white, and blue poinsettias as well as other flowing plants provide a perfect setting for the wintry holiday scene.
The display is in the Orthwein Floral Display Hall and admission is $3 for ages three and up in addition to the regular garden admission price. For more information visit the website at: (www.mobot.org)