One of the truly historical and beautiful sights in St. Louis is the Missouri Botanical Gardens, also called Shaw's Garden. These are the gardens that Henry Shaw built in 1851 on his 1800 acre villa, called Tower Grove house. They have been world-famous since that time... a 150 year heritage.
My wife, Anna, and I decided to visit on a hot July afternoon. Other than the heat, the visit was luxurious and beautiful. We toured most of the areas of the park during our walk. There were different styles of gardens in each of seven different sections (maybe I missed one or two sections). The water lily pond had varieties of flowers from all parts of the world. I didn't realize that there were so many different species of that flower. Then, we went into the climatron. There were two large sections, one for the rain forest and one for the temperate. We spent more than 45 minutes walking through this one large building.
No visit to these gardens can be complete without looking at the Japanese Garden. This Japanese Garden is named Seiwa-en, which means the garden of pure, clear harmony and peace. It was designed with great care by the late Professor Koichi Kawana to ensure authenticity. We were told that this 14-acre garden is the largest Japanese strolling garden in the Western hemisphere. There is a four-acre lake, which is complemented with waterfalls, streams, water-filled basins, and stone lanterns. Dry gravel gardens are raked into beautiful, rippling patterns. There are four islands which rise from the lake to form symbolic images. Several Japanese bridges link shorelines to the islands. My wife was delighted in feeding the giant "koi" (Japanese carp). We were enthralled by cherry blossoms, azaleas, chrysanthemums, peonies, lotus, and other flowers as we walked through this beautiful area. We could have spent longer, but the heat was really getting unbearable.
Not only was there a Japanese garden, but there were Chinese gardens, an English woodland garden, and a Strassenfest garden in the international area. There was an area for experimental gardening that we saw with beautiful examples of how home gardens might be planted, an area with a vegetable garden, a children's garden, and an aroma garden. We walked through several other areas as we returned to the front entrance. Some of the areas have slipped my mind.
Beyond that which I have written, there are many other parts of this delightful place. Two hours are plenty to get a start, but I know that we need to visit again on our next trip to see some of the other areas of this huge estate. Those who want to visit this place need to be ready for a floral overdose. It is worth buying the yearly membership, just to visit here often and see all that there is to offer.