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10.09.2010 - 15 comments 

What's this... a trip to St. Louis, Missouri and NOT a blog post about the St. Louis Arch? Well as many of you know who have followed this Lazy Blogger around the world, we almost always try and visit the botanical Gardens of the larger cities that we visit. This trip to St. Louis was no exception to that ritual. The garden here in St. Louis was founded in 1859. This timing sort of explains why the Missouri Botanical Garden is the nation's oldest botanical garden in continuous operation and a National Historic Landmark and thus it is my first post from St. Louis, Missouri.

The Garden is a center for botanical research and science education, as well as an oasis in the city of St. Louis. That fact made it a walk from having to park on the neighborhood streets around there because there was not enough parking inside the garden complex itself to accommodated all of the people who were trying to see it. There is no charge for parking at the Missouri Botanical Garden. In the event that the parking lot is full, as it was for our visit, they say that visitors should use the free parking at the Metro multi-modal lots at the corner of Shaw Boulevard and Vandeventer which we could not even find, but we thought the small few block walk seemed like a small price to pay to see such a totally beautiful garden.

The Missouri Botanical Garden was founded in 1859 by Henry Shaw and was, from its inception, it was a public botanical garden and a place to study and display plants. Within the walls of these 79 acres, magnificent gardens and rare collections of botanical, horticultural, and historical materials reside with architecturally significant buildings and inspirational fountains and statuary. Today, the Garden is a National Historic Landmark, the oldest botanical garden in the United States, and a world leader in botanical research.

The grounds of the Missouri Botanical Garden feature gardens, modern and traditional, and living collections of major groups of ornamental and practical plants. Greenhouses and conservatories display plants native to lands far removed from St. Louis.
150 years after opening, local parlance still refers to “Shaw’s Garden." Shaw's gift to the city of St. Louis is a memorable today as it was in 1859.
Some of our favorite sites there were: the Climatron, the Children's Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Bakewell Ottoman Garden and the Victorian District. In fact the Doris Waters Harris Lichtenstein Victorian District is home to the Kresko Family Victorian Garden, the Kaeser Maze, and the Piper Observatory.

This 19th century inspired garden of attractions is home to Tower Grove House, garden founder Henry Shaw’s 1849 residence.
Structures and landscaping have been added to the area to recreate features built by Shaw. This includes the Mausoleum Garden, which is Henry Shaw’s final resting place.

So who exactly was this guy Henry Shaw? According to what I could find out... at age 39, Henry Shaw retired from his successful hardware business and spent time both at his city townhouse and at Tower Grove House, built in 1849. In retirement Shaw focused his attention, skills and resources on real estate, buying and renting many city and rural properties. He also traveled to Europe on three trips that totaled about a decade. Shortly after returning from his last trip in 1851, Shaw began to investigate gardening and spent his remaining years at Tower Grove House developing one of the world’s top botanical gardens on this site.

As one of their brochures stated... The Missouri Botanical Garden's mission is "to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life." Today, 151 years after opening, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark; and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display. And from my point of view, it looked as though they did a very good job of living up to their mission statement to both Mrs. LZ and I. I hope you enjoy the shots and if you ever happen to make it to St. Louis, I'd make sure that this was one of your stops while in the city.

"I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large Garden." ~ Abraham Cowley, The Garden, 1666