Early Spring at the Missouri Botanical Garden

A First-Time Visitor

I finally had the chance to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden, founded by Henry Shaw in 1859. It is one of the top botanical gardens in the world with an invaluable collection of plants. I had hoped to catch the Cherry Trees in bloom and was not disappointed. We had a lovely stroll through the grounds, including the conservatory and the Japanese Gardens.

Many Gardens in One

As a first-time visitor, I was surprised by the diversity of the gardens, including an English woodland garden, a variety of German Gardens, and a large children’s garden. The garden had a renaissance in the 1970s-2000s under the leadership of Dr. Peter Raven. The Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, the Victorian Garden, the Boxwood Garden, and many more opened during his tenure. You can read more about the history in the online text An Illustrated History of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

The Japanese Garden

The enormous koi fish in the Japanese Garden lake were so well-fed that they ignored the food pellets people could buy to throw to them. We also saw some contented Mallard ducks. The 4-acre lake includes four islands and a small waterfall. The garden path winds around the lake with views of a dry garden with raked gravel, lanterns, and wooden bridges. Walking through the naturalistic Japanese garden gave me a profound feeling of calmness.

The Conservatory

The Climatron© Conservatory is an incredible architectural feat, a geodesic dome without columns or other interior supports. Built in 1960, it was the first geodesic dome to be used as a greenhouse. The gorgeous tropical plants, including orchids, banana plants, and palm trees, cover half an acre. You can learn more about the conservatory on the Garden’s website. Dale Chihuly’s “Sunset Herons,” a set of graceful orange glass sculptures, rise up in one of the ponds and Chihuly’s “Missouri Botanical Garden Blue Chandelier,” a large ombre blue sculpture with many delicate spirals, hangs down from the ceiling.

A Serene Experience

The grounds are spacious, so we never felt like we had to battle crowds. The flowering crabapples, dogwoods, and redbuds were spectacular. We also enjoyed the daffodils and tulips. For one of the most famous and popular spots in St. Louis, it was overwhelmingly peaceful and relaxing. I hope to return during summer to see the fountains, roses, and water lilies. It will be worth braving the heat and humidity to see the summer flowers. I’d also like to check out the gift shop and café in the Visitor Center.

How to Visit

The parking lot was full but we had no issues parking on the street a block away. Parking is free but the lot is not large. The garden is located at 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110, right off I-44. The garden is open every day, year-round, except for Christmas Day. General admission is $16 for non-residents and $6 for city and county residents. You can buy tickets in person or online before you go at the Missouri Botanical Garden website.

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