A short drive across the Mississippi River, to the center of the city of St. Louis, Missouri puts me at one of my favorite places, the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Once known as Shaw’s Garden, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, founded in 1859, is one of the nation’s oldest botanical gardens. Considered a national historic landmark, the garden is home to its founder’s 1850 estate, Henry Shaw. With 79 acres full of beautiful trees and plants, the garden hosts a 14-acre Japanese garden, and the world’s largest collection of orchids, many of which are on the endangered species list.
Although the garden has a full staff of workers, its care relies heavily on the many volunteers who come to help with everyday gardening chores. The garden provides rooms for gardening groups and clubs to hold meetings in exchange for volunteer work in the garden.
The admission fee allows visitors to leisurely stroll the paved walks entwined through the garden, sit by the fountains, and admire the artwork located throughout the garden. For children under the age of 12 the admission is free and discounts are available for city and country residents and senior citizens. Become a member of the garden and your general admission fee is waivered, as well as receiving discounts, and entry to special members-only events. The garden is open seven days a week nine o’clock to five o’clock.
The garden is handicap accessible, provides guided walking tours, includes a children’s garden, garden shop, narrated tram tours, and much more. Special events are held throughout the year and the website for the garden hosts an online calendar with a complete listing. Educational classes for adults and children, plant sales and shows, lectures, seminars, and festivals are just a few of the listings you will find on this calendar.
Throughout the summer months, the garden hosts the Whitaker Music Festival, a favorite of mine. Spectators are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets along with a picnic lunch to enjoy the featured musical artists performing at the Cohen Amphitheater. This celebrated event of music and nature, which is sponsored by the Whitaker Foundation, begins at 7:30 p.m., with a free admission.
A popular event for St. Louis and the surrounding area is the annual Japanese festival held in September. This event hosts traditional tea ceremonies, candlelight walks, martial arts and taiko drumming demonstrations, and much more.
If you plan to visit St. Louis, you must include the Missouri Botanical Gardens on your list of must-sees.
Source: Missouri Botanical Gardens