Did you know that St. Louis is home to one of the oldest public gardens in America? Founded in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark – not to mention one of the prettiest places in city limits. It’s also the second-highest rated area attraction on travel website TripAdvisor.com, which recently awarded the nearby Magnolia Hotel St. Louis its annual Certificate of Excellence.
Missouri Botanical Garden, referred to by locals as MOBOT, is just a five mile drive from the historic boutique hotel in the heart of downtown St. Louis. Take a rideshare service to the garden, or enjoy a leisurely 30-minute bike ride to the lush garden that sits adjacent to popular Tower Grove Park. While you’re enjoying your day at MOBOT, remember to catch these five don’t miss spectacles.
1. Seiwa-en: Garden of pure, clear harmony and peace
You don’t have to pronounce the name of MOBOT’s Japanese garden correctly, but you should take a stroll through its serene plantings and bridges. At 14 acres, Seiwa-en is the largest garden of its kind in North America. The garden was designed by the late Dr. Koichi Kawana, a UCLA professor whose works also appear at the Denver Botanic Gardens and San Diego’s Balboa Park.
Look for: A tall Japanese maple planted in honor of the Japanese Emperor’s visit to St. Louis in 1994.
2. Corpse Flowers
Known colloquially as the “corpse flower,” morphophallus titanium is a giant, rare plant that unfurls its massive leaf to reveal a blossom once in a blue moon – every 13 years, on average. The flower lasts for only a day, which is a good thing considering the awful stench it emits to quickly attract flies and other carrion. The garden saw its eighth bloom in July of this year.
3. The Climatron®
If you thought this popular garden feature was a temperature-regulating robot, you’re not too far off. MOBOT’s Climatron is a geodesic dome greenhouse named for its natural ability to regulate the internal climate. The flora here is like a miniature rainforest. The structure houses more than 2,800 plants including banana trees, coffee plants, orchids, and the rare double coconut.
Look for: Rotating displays like the fused glass artwork of Craig Mitchell Smith, on display through August 21 inside the dome.
4. The Linnaen House
Named for renowned 18th century botanist Carl Linnaeus, this is the oldest surviving greenhouse on garden property – and the only one built during MOBOT founder Henry Shaw’s time. It’s been renovated multiple times, resulting in a majestic glazed roof, in-ground heating and extra light for the fragrant Camellias that bloom in late winter to spring.
Look for: The statue of a mermaid baby, crafted by sculptor Wheeler Williams in 1939, placed in the center of a pool that travelers often use as a wishing well.
5. Stop and Smell the Roses
Established in 1917, the Gladney Rose Garden is like something out of a children’s fairytale. The wheel-shaped garden supports around 900 individual rose plants, and is one of the oldest public rose gardens in the West. Take a stroll through the garden in spring or fall to experience the garden’s sweet fragrances at their fullest.
Afterwards, visit the nearby St. Louis Zoo at Forest Park before returning home to Magnolia Hotel St. Louis for dinner and drinks. If you’re in town on August 21, 2017, be sure to catch the total eclipse. Both MOBOT and Magnolia sit close to the “path of totality,” making it possible to view the full magnificence of the event. CLICK HERE or call 314-436-9000 to start booking your garden getaway in historic St. Louis.