STL Proud: An inside look at one of the city's most beautiful at -

STL Proud: An inside look at one of the city's most beautiful attractions

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Missouri Botanical Garden. Credit: KMOV Missouri Botanical Garden. Credit: KMOV

Did you know that the Missouri Botanical Garden is widely considered one of the top three Botanical Gardens in the world?  Garden scientists discovered over 250 few species of plants last year alone. And Garden botanists are active in 35 countries on six continents.  These are only a few reasons St. Louis is proud to be home to this amazing place.

“I’ve been to a lot of gardens in a lot of places in the world, and I think this is one of the nicest gardens there are.  It’s really big, and it was planted so long ago the trees are huge and it's absolutely beautiful” says Parker McMillan, Garden Member & Volunteer.

She has been coming to the garden her whole like, and that love has been passed down to her children and their spouses.

“I was married here at the Layman Rose Garden back in 2010”. Eight years ago, Melissa Lloyd, Parker’s Daughter-In-Law, said her vows in the garden. “It's a very special place, we always go see where we were, and we walk down the aisle”

The Children’s Garden is all about family fun, play and learning.  It introduces kids to the importance of plants and nature in fun and innovative ways.  Kids can glide down Spelunker’s Slide, explore the wetlands, board a steamboat or climb in the tree house. 

“All three of my kids love coming to the climatron,” says Heather Lloyd. She is another of Parker’s Daughter In-Laws, and her children have grown to love a different spot in the garden.  “It almost feels like you're going in to another world.  I have 2 older sons and they always talk about the geodesic dome, and the rock features and the different plantings that go in there, and throughout the year and the different seasons you can always have a fun adventure going inside.”

The Climatron houses plants in a natural tropical setting.  Several pools and waterfalls make it feel as if you’re in a tropical rainforest.     

The garden is known not only for its beautiful plants and flowers but also for its historical architecture.  One example is garden founder Henry Shaw’s home, Tower Grove House. It now stands in the middle of the city, but when it was built in 1849, this area was rural. 

The Missouri Botanical Garden is always adding new things.  New this year is Henry Shaw’s museum, back open to the public for the first time in 35 years. The Museum building was established in 1859, the same year the garden opened its doors to the public. Some of the rehabilitation work in the building included restoring the original architectural features and the ornate ceiling mural.

Also new this year is Flora Borealis.  Beginning June 29, at dusk each night, visitors can journey through the garden which will be transformed through a combination of lights, moving images and sounds. It’s expected to bring the garden to life like never before.

Paul Brockmann has worked at the garden for over 47 years and talked to me more about the garden’s hidden gems. “The Japanese garden for one, it's far into the garden so not as many visitors venture down that far. It’s really a treasure to behold and it's been there since 1977.  It’s really an exotic, different type of place from the rest of the garden to visit.”  At 14 acres, the serene landscape of the Japanese Garden is one of the largest in North America, incorporating carefully designed plantings, waterfalls, beaches and islands.

Paul’s favorite spot in the garden though is the maze. “The parents go up into the observatory adjacent to the maze and they can look out and you can see all the little kids running around in the maze and the parents are saying no go this way...or no go that way, there's just really that excitement interchanged between the children and the parents.   

A garden membership starts at fifty dollars and gets you into the garden every day of the year except Christmas.  It also entitles you to free admission at the Butterly House and Shaw Nature Reserve.  For more details on membership, or to become a member click here

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