2021’s Most Romantic Gardens in the U.S.
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By Brenda Ryan for LawnStarter
What says romance better than a dozen roses? How about thousands of roses, along with lilies, tulips, philodendrons, and every other flower you can imagine.
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Missouri Botanical Garden

Submitted by on January 8, 2010 – 9:51 pmNo Comment
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missouri_botanical1Road Trips Gardeners anywhere near St. Louis, Missouri, no matter the season, must stop at the Missouri Botanical Garden, which celebrated its 150th anniversary last year. From the lush tropical Climatron (with its 1,200 species of plants, pools, waterfalls and tropical birds) to the Bakewell Ottoman Garden (with a profusion of flowers fit for a Turkish sultan), there’s something in bloom every day of the year.

The garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri, is the nation’s oldest botanical garden in continuous operation and a National Historic Landmark. It is a center for botanical research and science education, as well as an oasis in the city of St. Louis. The Garden offers 79 acres of beautiful horticultural display, including a 14-acre Japanese strolling garden, Henry Shaw’s original 1850 estate home, and one of the world’s largest collections of rare and endangered orchids. Henry Shaw? It’s all his idea.

missouri_botanical_henryshawOne day in the spring of 1819, Shaw, an 18-year-old Englishman recently landed in the river town of St. Louis on the edge of the American wilderness, took a half-day journey on horseback out of town, it is noted in the history of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Riding westward through marshy ground, past sinkholes and Indian burial mounds, he came at last to a narrow path cutting through brush, and found himself on elevated ground overlooking a beautiful prairie. He fell in love with the place.

Shaw had come to St. Louis to open a business selling hardware and cutlery. As St. Louis flourished in the second quarter of the 19th century, and the city’s population grew, his businesses expanded to include investments in agricultural commodities, mining, real estate, and furs. His success provided him with a substantial fortune and allowed him to retire in 1840 at the age of 39. During the next decade he continued buying property, and his eventual holdings of about 1,000 acres included the land he had seen his first year in St. Louis. On this land he had a country home built.

From 1849 to 1851 he also traveled extensively in the United States and Europe, and he was inspired to give the people of St. Louis a garden like the great gardens and estates of Europe. Shortly after 1851 Shaw began development of a ten-acre site near his country home.

missouri_botanical2The news that Shaw was building a botanical garden reached Dr. George Engelmann, a German physician-botanist who had come to the U.S. several decades earlier. Engelmann suggested that the garden be more than a public park, that it become involved with scientific work like the great botanical institutions of Europe. With the assistance of Harvard botanist Asa Gray and Sir William Hooker, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, near London, Engelmann persuaded Shaw to include a herbarium (collection of botanical specimens) and a library in his garden. Shaw in turn encouraged Engelmann to buy specimens and books in Europe.

Whenever this Road Trips Gardener stops at the Missouri Botanical Garden, she heads straight for the colorful koi in the Japanese Garden’s four-acre lake. Her visits also include lunch at Sassafras, the first Certified Green Restaurant in the state of Missouri.

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