Monday, February 17, 2014

Dreaming of Spring and the MOBOT

Hi-Ho, still February here in Iowa. But my thoughts are turning to the visits my husband and I take once or twice each year to visit friends in St. Louis, where, if the spring weather permits, we always try to see the incredibly beautiful gardens at the Missouri Botanical Gardens (the MOBOT). The first time we visited there was in spring 2010, and we were astounded at the magnificent Japanese garden and other garden areas.

Here are a few photos, so you too can enjoy their beauty:

Like I mentioned, the Japanese Garden, one of the the largest in the US,
is of such stunning beauty that even snapshots look like art.

My husband in the stripes, and our good friend, Eric, under a flowering cherry tree. The petals were wafting down like pink snow and it was truly magical.

Azaleas and water lilies.

Magnificent azaleas and rhododendrons (I can never tell them apart since I can hardly grow either very well here in Iowa). This photo doesn't do justice to the profusion of giant neon domes set in perfectly raked white gravel.

One of the more restrained garden areas. What a sunny spring day!

The Moorish walled garden inside the Temperate House, one of the MOBOT's three conservatories.

A lovely tulip display

Another spring annual display of purple tulips and pansies, backed by azaleas (I think).
I can't highly enough recommend driving down in mid-to-late April (depending on how early spring comes) to see these beautiful spring gardens. The MOBOT has numerous garden areas: Chinese, Ottoman, Bavarian and English woodland gardens; Iris, Hosta, Daylily and Rose gardens; Victorian and Maze gardens; and demonstration Vegetable, Fruit, Fragrance, Bird, Butterfly and Children's gardens.

Also known as Shaw's Garden, named after the merchant who established them in the 1850s, the gardens have an illustrious history (documented in this fascinating book), they maintain a great website that includes a plant information guide for cultivars that grow well in the Midwest, and are without doubt the most beautiful gardens within driving distance of Iowa. I can't wait to see them again this spring!


  1. How beautiful! Thanks for the tour! I love the azaleas and rhododendrons. Don with the woodland garden in your area has many in his gardens. He highly recommends Pride's Pale Lilac azalea; he says he has many of them now as it is easy to dig a piece and transplant it elsewhere - very hardy and very beautiful. Upon that recommendation, I purchased one from Rare Find Nursery last year. I also want to add a couple of rhodies this spring. With rhodies and azaleas you need to be sure to not plant with the root ball intact - also they need acidic soil and excellent drainage. If you have a semi-shady area, and follow those guidelines, you probably could have some in your gardens. Larry recommends the northern lights series of azaleas. Thanks again for the breath of spring! Gorgeous!

    1. Thanks for your kind words, and for your advice. I planted 6 'Girard Rose' Azaleas a few years ago, adding acidifier and half of them died within a year. I replaced them and dug in peat moss and the new ones died again. I still have 2&1/2 left (one always looks half dead, but the others flower...), but I just don't think they're suited for growing here. I have heavy clay soil and when I talked with someone at Girard Nurseries (it might have been Girard himself), he sounded pretty pessimistic about my chances for growing azaleas here. Perhaps I'll try the Pride's one if I find it around here. Thanks for the recommendation!