AAA Editor Notes
Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT) is at 4344 Shaw Blvd., just s. of I-44 exit 287B near the jct. of Vandeventer and Kingshighway. St. Louisans affectionately refer to it as “Shaw's Garden”—a tribute to the British-born businessman who sold cutlery out of a rented room in St. Louis at age 18, subsequently made a fortune in hardware, retired at 40, traveled the world, found inspiration in Europe's great botanical gardens and opened one of his own in his adopted city.
MOBOT, which celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2009, offers 79 acres of outdoor display gardens and several indoor conservatories featuring tropical and non-native plants. Historic buildings include the Spink Pavilion, now a private event facility, and the Tower Grove House, Shaw's country home. This mid-19th-century residence is restored and furnished in period style.
Highlights? There are many, starting with the Climatron, a geodesic dome with a lovely assortment of tropical trees, plants and flowers that luxuriate in the damp, climate-controlled environment. The Shoenberg Temperate House displays biblical and other plants from regions of the world with a Mediterranean climate. The Linnean House—named for famed botanist Carl Linnaeus—was originally used as a greenhouse to overwinter palms, tree ferns, citrus trees and other cold-sensitive plants; today its northern half houses camellias and its southern half has been returned to its original use as an orangery. The camellias begin blooming in mid-December and reach their peak in mid- to late February, providing a display of floriferous beauty for winter-weary visitors.
MOBOT's 14-acre Japanese Garden is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll. In the garden's central axis, a reflecting pool features a trio of angel musicians (bronze sculptures by Swedish artist Carl Milles). Floating in the pool from April through October are “Walla Wallas,” whimsical glass sculptures by another renowned artist, Dale Chihuly (and don't miss Chihuly's Blue Chandelier hanging in the Ridgway Visitor Center).
The Kemper Center for Home Gardening encompasses 23 thematic residential gardens. Next to the center, a path through the George Washington Carver Garden, planted with hydrangeas and sweet potato vines, leads to a fountain and life-size statue of the “plant scientist” and native Missourian—an appropriate tribute, since in addition to being a horticultural showplace MOBOT is known for its science and conservation efforts.
Guided tours are available. Food is available.