Botanical gardens in Tower Grove

Missouri Botanical Garden

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The Missouri Botanical Garden is a botanical garden located in St. Louis, Missouri. It is also known informally as Shaw's Garden for founder Henry Shaw, a botanist and philanthropist.


Founded in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the oldest botanical institutions in the United States and a National Historic Landmark. The Garden is a center for botanical research and science education of international repute, as well as an oasis in the city of St. Louis, with 79 acres (31 hectares) of horticultural display. It includes a 14-acre (5 hectares) Japanese strolling garden named Seiwa-en; the Climatron geodesic dome conservatory; a children's garden, including a pioneer village; a playground; a fountain area and a water locking system, somewhat similar to the locking system at the Panama Canal; an Osage camp; and Henry Shaw’s original 1850 estate home. It is adjacent to Tower Grove Park, another of Shaw’s legacies.

In 1983, the Botanical Gardens were added as the fourth subdistrict of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District.

From 1991 to 1993 the chairman of the Garden Trustees was William H.T. Bush (younger brother of former President George H.W. Bush).

The 2003 annual report lists more than 100 individuals under research, a third of them with PhDs.

For part of 2006, the Missouri Botanical Garden featured "Glass in the Garden", with glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly placed throughout the garden. Four pieces were purchased to remain at the gardens. In 2008 sculptures of the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle were placed throughout the garden. In 2009, the 150th anniversary of the Garden was celebrated, including a floral clock display.

During the past 25 years, the gardens and facilities have been upgraded under Dr. Peter Raven, the Garden's director and chief executive.

The Gardens

The Garden is a place for many annual cultural festivals, including the Japanese Festival and the Chinese Culture Days by the St. Louis Chinese Culture Days Committee. During this time, there are showcases of the culture's botanics as well as cultural arts, crafts, music and food. The Japanese Festival recently began to include sumo wrestling, adding this sport to taiko drumming and kimono fashion shows. The Garden is known for its bonsai growing, which can be seen all year round, but is highlighted during the multiple Asian festivals.

Major garden features include:

  • Tower Grove House (1849) and Herb Garden - Shaw's Victorian country house in the Italianate style, with a tower over the central entry way.
  • Victory of Science Over Ignorance - Marble statue by Carlo Nicoli; a copy of the original (1859) by Vincenzo Consani in 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.
  • Gladney Rose Garden (1915) - Circular rose garden with arbors.
  • Climatron (1960) and Reflecting Pools - the world's first geodesic dome greenhouse; lowland rain forest with approximately 1500 plants.
  • English Woodland Garden (1976) - aconite, azaleas, bluebells, dogwoods, hosta, trillium, etc., beneath tree canopy.
  • Seiwa-en Japanese Garden (1977) - chisen kaiyu-shiki (wet strolling garden) with lawns and path set around a central lake (4.5 acres). Designed by Koichi Kawana.
  • 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 Tai Hu.
  • Blanke Boxwood Garden (1996) - walled parterre with a fine boxwood collection.
  • 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.

Popular culture

Douglas Trumbull, director of the 1972 science fiction classic film Silent Running, stated that the geodesic domes on the spaceship Valley Forge were based on the Missouri Botantical Gardens Climatron dome. (Commentary accompanying the DVD release of the film.)

Butterfly House

MoBot also operates the Butterfly House in Chesterfield

Earthways Center

MoBot restored an old building as a showcase home for green technologies and though the Earthways Center has been active in promoting sustainable practices to homeowners throughout the region.

Shaw Nature Reserve

Main article: Shaw Nature Reserve

The Shaw Nature Reserve was started by MoBot in 1925 as a place to store plants away from the pollution of the city. The air in St. Louis later cleared up and the reserve has continued to be open to the public and for enjoyment, research, and education ever since. The 2,400 acre reserve is located in Gray Summit, Missouri 35 miles away from the city.

See also

  • List of botanical gardens in the United States
  • Shaw Nature Reserve
  • Peter F. Stevens, a biologist working in the Missouri Botanical Garden


External links

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4300 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA

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Open hours
Wed 9:00 AM–1:00 PM
Thu 9:00 AM–1:00 PM
Fri 10:00 AM–3:00 PM
Sat 10:00 AM–9:00 PM
Sun 10:00 AM–4:00 PM
Mon 10:00 AM–2:00 PM

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