By: Amanda Honigfort, Special Programs Producer
The Missouri Botanical Garden spreads over 79 beautiful acers in the Tower Grove neighborhood as a natural oasis in St. Louis city. Founded in 1859 by Henry Shaw, it is the nation’s oldest botanical garden in continuous operation and a National Historic Landmark.
From holidays to sunday brunch, meeting up with friends and family at garden events, to a meeting place for dates and mid-afternoon strolls, the Botanical Garden is a fixture in St. Louis life.
The garden isn’t just a source for beautiful landscapes and enjoyable walks, but a center for conservation, education, and horticultural science.
Research and conservation are such a big part of the Garden’s mission, they created a the Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development and the William L. Brown Center, as well as run the Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, MO with education and sustainability programs for all ages.
People haven’t yet found and documented all species of plants on the Earth, and Missouri Botanical Garden Scientists are focused on furthering that work around the world as well as studying the way those plants behave over time and how to care for them.
Through their research, Missouri Botanical Garden Scientists are developing methods to conserve plants and the plant diversity of ecosystems on small and massive scales, and are an essential aspect of conservation, in countries such as Bolivia, Madagascar, Peru, and Vietnam.
So much more scientific work happens behind the scenes, but to involve the community, the Garden has started an initiative called BiodiverseCity St. Louis to encourage everyone to “share a stake in improving quality of life for all through actions that welcome nature into our urban, suburban, and rural communities.”
They have also recently opened the restored Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum on the Garden’s grounds. A massive undertaking, the newly renovated museum will showcase artifacts from the Garden’s history as well as endangered plants and other aspects of the Garden’s work.
It was originally a passion project of Henry Shaw, but was closed for many years and fell into disrepair. HEC is telling the museum and the Missouri Botanical Garden’s story in our forthcoming documentary, A New Leaf, which will release in late summer. You can find a trailer now on anewleaf.tv.
Even without their formal programs, classroom visits, activities for kids and families, and workshops for adults, it’s hard not learn something when visiting the garden. Who hasn’t checked the plant signs to see what an interesting looking plant was called or where a beautiful flower was native to?
A walk through the Botanical Garden can take you through the rose garden, the bulb, iris and daylily gardens, the George Washington Carver Garden, the Climatron, experimental gardens, demonstration gardens, both sun and shade gardens and – if you can find them – a secret garden or two.
The Cornelia Sunnen Backyard Garden gives the ambitious an idea of what they might be able to do in their backyard, while the Kemper Center for Home Gardening teaches us about vegetable and flower growing, indoor plants, landscaping ornamental shrubs, and more.
The English Woodland Garden, Chinese Garden, Linnean House, and Japanese garden are among regular patrons’ favorites and several of their events have become yearly traditions such as the Holiday Garden Glow in the winter, the Orchid Show in the spring, and their free summer concert series, Whitaker Music Festival which will run every Wednesday evening until July 25. Check out the preview on our most recent Scope episode!
You can find at least one amazing event every month on their website or Facebook page. Up next is Flora Borealis – the nighttime multimedia experience will open June 29 and promises visitors a one-mile journey through iconic Garden locations that will bring the Garden to life like never before through a combination of sounds, lights, and moving images. It will also feature family friendly activities and a biergarten.
Whether at the Garden for brunch, a casual stroll, or a special event, it’s guaranteed to offer a different experience every time and a beautiful one at that.
The Missouri Botanical Garden is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is free for members, or $12 adults (ages 13 & over) and free for children. With proof of city or country residency admission is $6 for adults and $4 for seniors (over 65).