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Missouri Botanical Garden Celebrates the 250th Year of the Founding of St. Louis
The Missouri Botanical Garden has a Passion for Plants
The Missouri Botanical Garden has a huge passion for plants, that is very contagious! This last year, 2014, marked the 250th year from the founding of the city of St. Louis! St. Louis celebrated in part, by marking the major landmarks of the city with huge, decorated "cakes" that are now going to be auctioned off to the highest bidders. They are each a work of art, and quite incredible.! You could find these "cakes" throughout the city, decorated in all their glory, at locations like the St. Louis Zoo, the Botanical Garden, the Jewel Box and many other locations.
This article is focusing on just one small way the Missouri Botanical Garden celebrated this huge celebration for the city. With all that has happened in St. Louis and the surrounding areas this year, it is a great and positive thing to see people celebrating a lot of the good things that have made St. Louis such a great place.
One Hundred and Fifty Five Years Ago, Shaw's Garden Began
The Missouri Botanical Garden began back in 1859, when Henry Shaw opened it to the residents of the city. This was land that he treasured, and wanted to share his passion and growing knowledge with others. To my understanding, this has never ceased ever since that time. That was one hundred and fifty five years ago now! It is pretty impressive, and it makes this botanical garden the oldest botanical garden in the United States.
Missouri Botanical Garden is not just impressive in what it can show in its display gardens, but its research programs are very impressive. The added architectural heritage one can see on the grounds, only adds too its beauty and history.
The collecting of plants from around the world, began in 1890, thirty one years after its opening. Species discovery of plants has a very specific process. Plant collecting is a core part of that process clearly, and is followed by identification and publication. The taxonomists use the plants that the collectors bring back to classify species and publish papers on the ones that are previously unknown to science. This information is then made available worldwide. So we all get to benefit from it and learn more about these incredible plants that we would have never known otherwise!
Part of the vast collection at the garden shows how they strive to highlight as much of the world's plant diversity as possible. This is done not only in the living collection of plants (which is incredible to observe when visiting), but also in its herbarium. This is the part of the collection where plants and flowers are are dried and pressed. Recorded in this way, we can continue to learn from them long term.
So what we are seeing in this particular part of the celebration of St. Louis' history, is a temporary display that is designed each year by a floral display team. It is so different every year! They work so hard on the props and design, and so many enjoy what they create. Their designs begin in early spring. The end of the following October, begins the installation process. When it is finally ready, we get to see it a week or so prior to Thanksgiving here. Just in time for the colder weather to hit, and people come to visit from around the country and the world, to see family and friends, or just the city itself!
Some of the Particular Flowers and Plants at the Gardenland Express
Every year is different for this annual show, but this year some particular items can be viewed. These are often repeats of prior years, but look very different as the theme changes each time, as described above. You will see poinsettias, cyclamen, aroid, cacti, spruce trees, and fir trees at least. There are often many succulents as well.
The history of Henry Shaw is shown, and some history on the different Victorian Buildings. You will see miniatures of the Linnean House the Museum Building, and much more. The garden has a flyer that is a fun guide to take throughout, to guide you along the way. Its fun to take your time and stroll through this exhibit.
Missouri Botanical Garden and the Gardenland Express
The Missouri Botanical Garden's Gardenland Express ran this year from November 22nd through January 4, 2015. This is a yearly event at the garden and it has a different theme every year. Considering the special year this last one was for the Garden, this annual flower and train show had its theme clearly laid out. They would do their part to celebrate the city's 250th birthday, by sharing the garden's passion for plants and the history of the buildings from the Victorian Era from which they came. This of course, included some of the history of Henry Shaw himself.
The mission of the Missouri Botanical Garden is, "To discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life." Henry Shaw and the garden have lived out this mission and continue to. In particular, this year with the celebration, they created the train show to share the stories of the garden's roots and then growth over the years. I have been fortunate to be in town for several of these shows over the years, as it occurs over the holiday season. This year may have been my favorite, though it is hard to say for sure! I suppose that since I am such a fan of the garden itself, I couldn't help but love the miniatures of the Victorian Era buildings that are seen in large scale on the grounds of the garden itself. It is simply beautifully done! I was so impressed. That it is an indoor adventure, makes it all the more special during the winter in St. Louis.
Henry Shaw was known to be "civically minded", and wanted to share his passion of plants and the knowledge that goes with that, with the people of St. Louis. This was the whole point in beginning the Missouri Botanical Garden. He did so on the grounds of his country home. What is really impressive, is that today, this vision has expanded around the globe, essentially. There continues to be groups and scientists that explore the globe, just as in the beginning, to collect specimens and learn about them. They bring many back to share, and add to collections. There is a massive library containing so much of the gathered knowledge over time, that it is nearly mind boggling.
The Victorian theme seen in the flower and train show this year, was simply beautiful. It combines that beauty, with the history of the Garden and its plant collections. I took a few photos of the show to share with you as well.
Scientists and Volunteer Citizen Scientists
Just a quick note of thanks to the countless scientists, including the over 150 volunteer citizen scientists that do so much ongoing, for the Missouri Botanical garden's collections. Whether it be photographs, or collections for the herbarium, etc, we can know so much more because of them.
A few of the names I saw highlighted that you can do further research on were George Pring, Dr. Jan Salick, and Tom Croat. These people have very interesting stories from their travels, showing their own passion for plants from all around the world. They are inspirational to so many.