Big cities often seem to afford no "escape," while others pleasantly surprise with treasures of natural beauty; St. Louis certainly demonstrates the latter. Right in the heart of this bustling city rests 79-acres of serene beauty; the Missouri Botanical Garden, renowned for its natural splendour and history, has an immense amount to offer anyone who roams its grounds. Founded in 1859, it is not only one of the oldest botanical gardens in the United States, but a National Historic Landmark as well. It draws over 750,000 visitors each year to experience the vast range of ecosystems and animal species which it houses, and to take part in the Missouri Botanical Garden's mission: "to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment" and "to preserve and enrich life."
The Missouri Botanical Garden holds a number of incredible attractions in which visitors may take delight, from a 14-acre Japanese strolling garden to the impressive Climatron Conservatory. The Japanese garden - named Seiwa-en, which means "pure, clear harmony and peace" - is the largest Japanese garden in the Western hemisphere. It includes a 4-acre lake strewn with beautiful bridges and waterfalls, and is full of native Japanese cherry blossom trees, lotus flowers and peonies. Visitors can even feed the gorgeous Koi fish which swim in the lake and surrounding pools.
The Climatron Conservatory, a half-acre greenhouse dome, has become a famous symbol of the Missouri Botanical Garden. It houses over 1,200 species of plants in a natural setting, and aims to educate visitors about the role of plants in various ecosystems. The conservatory simulates an actual tropical environment, with plants such as banana, cacao and coffee trees, as well exotic species of flowers, such as orchids; it's even home to a number of animals, including a variety of tropical birds. Furthermore, the Missouri Botanical Garden holds the Linnean House, which is the oldest continuously operating greenhouse conservatory in the United States, and the Tower Grove House, which was founder Henry Shaw's country home.
Aside from the range of enchanting attractions, the Missouri Botanical Garden boasts an established botanical research center. A center not only for botanical research, but for science education, it aims to emphasize the importance of plants to the balance of life on earth. Events and classes are also held on the grounds, emphasizing interests such as garden design or exotic plant care.
If you'll be visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden from out of town, you'll need to book accommodation; there are a host of terrific options to consider when it comes to hotel accomodation in St. Louis, such as the centrally located Hilton Homewood Suites. What's more, the Missouri Botanical Garden is an attraction which you and your family can happily visit several times, even in a single holiday, because its serene surroundings are so consistently inviting. Pack a picnic lunch, take a book to read or simply stroll through the beautiful surroundings; you're sure to leave the grounds refreshed, relaxed, and with a clear perception of the garden's purpose to "enrich life."