Last summer we had a great time in St. Louis visiting family and friends. One thing that wasn’t originally on our to-do list was the Missouri Botanical Garden. However, after I read that it was the second largest garden in North America, behind only that of the New York Botanical Garden, we decided to visit. So glad we did. I took so many pictures that I couldn’t possibly share on here, thus I created a short 2 min video below with some of the pictures we took during our visit.
There are over 79 acres of splendid horticultural on display at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Also known informally as Shaw’s Garden for founder and philanthropist Henry Shaw, it contains more than 6.6 million specimens. There are also more than 4,800 trees living on the grounds, including some unusual varieties and a few stately specimens dating back to the 19th century.
The first thing I really wanted to see was the rose garden. I love the smell of roses and was drawn to check out the Gladney Rose Garden. It was beautiful and smelled wonderful. There is also a beautiful little fountain and a cute little fence around the garden.
It was still quite warm in September so we decided to take their little tram around the garden as it was so huge. The tram stops at some of the more popular attractions such as the Kemper Center for Home Gardening, the Japanese Garden, the Victorian District, and Tower Grove House. It runs from April through October and only costs $4. Not a bad deal and you get to learn a little about the Missouri Botanical Garden as you go along the path. It was enjoyable, and I am glad that we did it.
After the tram tour, we decided to check out the Climatron. It is a huge geodesic dome and is very interesting. I learned that the term “Climatron” was coined to emphasize the climate-control technology of the greenhouse dome. It rises 70 feet in the center, spans 175 feet in diameter at the base, has 1.3 million cubic feet, and encloses approximately 24,000 square feet. It is a work of art in itself. Inside temperatures range from 64 at night to a high of 85 during the day. The average humidity is 85 percent.
Even though it was hot and humid, we spent a lot of time walking through the Climatron. I took many pictures of some of the 2,800 plants, including 1,400 different tropical species, growing inside. They include banana, cacao, coffee, many wild-collected plants, orchids, and exotic, rare plants such as the double coconut. I also loved the many waterfalls. Shocking, I know, lol.
Besides the few things I listed already, here is a list of some of the other gardens you will find at the Missouri Botanical Garden:
- Tower Grove House (1849) and Herb Garden – Shaw’s Victorian country house designed by prominent local architect George I. Barnettin the Italianate
- Victory of Science Over Ignorance – Marble statue by Carlo Nicoli; a copy of the original (1859) by Vincenzo Consaniin the Pitti Palace, Florence.
- Linnean House (1882) – Said to be the oldest continually operated greenhouse west of the Mississippi River. Originally Shaw’s orangery, in the late 1930s it was converted to house mostly camellias.
- English Woodland Garden (1976) – aconite, azaleas, bluebells, dogwoods, hosta, trillium, and others beneath the tree canopy.
- Seiwa-enJapanese Garden (1977) – is a 14-acre (5.7 ha) chisen kaiyu-shiki (wet strolling garden) with lawns and path set around a 4-acre (1.6 ha) central lake. It was designed by Koichi Kawana and is the largest Japanese Garden in North America.
- Grigg Nanjing Friendship Chinese Garden (1995) – Designed by architect Yong Pan; major features were gifts from sister city Nanjing, and include a moon gate, lotus gate, pavilion, and Chinese scholar’s rocks from Lake Tai.
- Blanke Boxwood Garden (1996) – walled parterre with a fine boxwood
- Strassenfest German Garden (2000) – flora native to Germany and Central Europe; bust of botanist and Henry Shaw’s scientific advisor George Engelmann(sculpted by Paul Granlund)
- Biblical garden featuring Date palm, pomegranate, fig and olive trees, caper, mint, citron and other plants mentioned in the Bible.
- Ottoman garden with water features and xeriscape.
We had a great time exploring the Missouri Botanical Garden and it should definitely be on your to-do list while visiting the St. Louis area. Below is a list of some visitor information to help you while planning your visit. Of course, please check their website for the latest info.
Hope you get to visit and explore on your own one day. If flowers aren’t your thing, but you like gardens, feel free to check out the other gardens we visited while in St Louis. They are the Laumeier Sculpture Park and the Ellen Clark Sculpture Park. Both are also very interesting.
Missouri Botanical Garden Visitor Information
4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63110
Daily 9 am – 5 pm
Prices: (As of November 2019)
- Adults over 13: $14
- Children under 12: Free
- Parking: Accessible parking spaces are located on both the east and west parking lots at the Ridgway Visitor Center. View Garden map
- Elevators: A few of our buildings are multiple levels. Elevators are located in the following:
- Restrooms: All restrooms are accessible to visitors. Family/Companion Assist restrooms are located at:
- Spink Pavilion
- Exploration Center and PlantLab
- View map
- Manual flush toilets for those with sensory needs are located at the Family/Companion Assist restroom next to the Exploration Center and PlantLab
- Exploring the Missouri Botanical Garden by tram: The Garden tram is manual wheelchair-accessible. Due to safety concerns, we are not able to accommodate personal motorized equipment on our trams at this time. Visitors are welcome to leave their motorized equipment at the tram shelter until the end of the tour and may transfer to a complimentary wheelchair to enjoy the tour. A printed copy of the tram script is available upon request. Please ask a visitor services tram attendant or pick up a copy at the visitor services desk in the Ridgway Visitor Center. Learn more
- Unique Display Gardens:
- The Zimmerman Sensory Garden features raised beds planted with multi-sensory plants just waiting to be touched and smelled. Each plant is labeled with Braille, raised letter, and large-print signage for visitors who are blind or visually impaired. Learn more
- The Garden for All in the Kemper Center for Home Gardening highlights innovative ideas for individuals with physical disabilities. Learn more
- Large Print, Braille, and American Sign Language:
- Braille and large-print menus are available at Sassafras. Please make request at the restaurant counter.
- Braille or large print handouts available for classes. Please contact (314) 577-5140 at least two weeks prior to start date of class.
- American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting is offered at all Whitaker Music Festival concerts.
- Pre-visit Tools: The Children’s Garden is a place for families to discover, explore, pretend, observe, and have nature adventures together. A visit to this special garden offers a variety of sensory experiences that encourage socialization, motor skill development, and foster a love of the natural world. These pre-visit tools were developed to help make a child’s experience a more meaningful and comfortable should they be living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other sensory disorders:
- Calming Corner: A comfortable room for nursing moms and for young visitors who need a quiet space and relief from sensory stimulation. Located in Edward Jones Hall near the Brookings Exploration Center and Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden, the room is purposefully designed with soft lighting, soothing colors, and comfortable seating. Calming activities in the room include books, tactile toys, plush forest critters, and soft mats. The room is available on a first–come–first–serve basis. Learn more
- Low Sensory Areas: Visitors in need of a less stimulating environment in the Garden are encouraged to visit the English Woodland Garden, Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden, Brookings Exploration Center before 10 am and after 4 pm, and the Children’s Garden before 10 am or after 2 pm most afternoons.
- Please note: Due to its historic nature, Tower Grove House is not wheelchair or stroller accessible. Explore Tower Grove House virtually and learn more about the history of Henry Shaw’s former country home.
There is no charge for parking at the Missouri Botanical Garden. In the event that the parking lot is full, visitors should use the free parking at the Metro multi-modal lots at the corner of Shaw Boulevard and Vandeventer.
From Downtown via I-44
Follow Memorial Drive south to I-44 west. Exit at Vandeventer/Kingshighway (Exit #287 B-A) and turn left. Then turn left on Shaw Boulevard. The Garden will be on your right.
From North via I-70
Take I-70 east into downtown St. Louis. Merge onto I-55 south to I-44 west. Exit at Vandeventer/Kingshighway (Exit #287 B-A) and turn left. Then turn left on Shaw Boulevard. The Garden will be on your right.
From West via I-64/40
Take I-64 east to Tower Grove Avenue (Ext #36 B) and turn right on Tower Grove Avenue. Continue south across Manchester and Vandeventer to Shaw Boulevard. Turn right onto Shaw. The Garden entrance will be on your left.
From Southwest via I-44
Take I-44 east. Exit at Kingshighway (Exit #287 A) and turn right. Then turn left on Shaw Boulevard and continue across Vandeventer. The Garden will be on your right.
From East via I-44
Take I-70 west across the Poplar Street Bridge. Merge onto I-55 south to I-44 west. Exit at Vandeventer/Kingshighway (Exit #287 B-A) and turn left. Then turn left on Shaw Boulevard. The Garden will be on your right.
From Lambert-St. Louis Intl. Airport via I-170
Take I-70 east toward St. Louis. Merge onto I-170 south (Exit #238 B). Merge onto I-64 east (Exit #1 A). Take the Kingshighway North & South exit (Exit #36 A-B) and turn right. Turn left onto Manchester Avenue and then right onto Tower Grove Avenue. Turn right onto Shaw Blvd. The Garden will be on your left.
From South via I-55
Take I-55 north to I-44 west. Exit at Vandeventer/Kingshighway (Exit #287 B-A) and turn left. Then turn left on Shaw Boulevard. The Garden will be on your right.
Metro bus stops are located at the corner of Tower Grove Ave. at Shaw Blvd. and at the corner of Alfred Ave. at Shaw Blvd. For more information on bus routes or to plan your trip, visit Metro’s TripFinder or view a Metro system map.
The Garden is accessible from several routes that are bike-friendly. A bike rack provided by TrailNet is located in the Ridgway Visitor Center parking lot.
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