Thursday, September 1, 2011

Peaceful, Quiet, and Beautiful

Yesterday's high temperature of 103 set a record for the day. It was almost 20 degrees higher than the average for this time of year. Not the best day for an outdoor activity, but last night Tony and I had a wonderful time at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Normally the garden closes at 5:00. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, though, they're open late on Wednesday nights, so after Tony got home from work, he quickly changed clothes and we got in the car, along with our picnic dinner, and some extra bottled water. Traffic wasn't bad, and it only took about 20 minutes to get there.

There were only a few cars on the parking lot. We grabbed our food and walked up to the entrance. Just before we went in the door, Tony saw a notice that said "no picnicing on the grounds". Uh-oh. We got our admission tickets, then left and walked to a far corner of the parking lot, where we sat on the curb under a tree to eat. Tummys full, we went back in.

The buildings all closed at 5, but there was still plenty to do. They were already setting up tents and stages for the Japanese festival this weekend, when the garden will be wall to wall people. However, last night was different. The garden covers 79 acres. In our hour and forty five minutes of walking, we only ran into six other groups of people. It felt like we had the garden to ourselves.

We walked past the reflecting pond in front of the Climatron (a geodesic dome conservatory), where water lilies mix colorfully with Chihuly glass onion sculptures, then meandered through some of the home demonstration gardens, where butterflies flitted about the colorful blooms.

It was still hot ("only" 96 degrees at 5:00), but I don't think it the humidity was as bad as it had been earlier in the summer. There was a nice breeze, and we took advantage of sprinklers several different times, running through the drops of water, or standing under gentle mists from the irrigation system.

Next, we went to the Japanese garden (at 14 acres, the largest Japanese strolling garden in the Western hemisphere) and sat on a bench next to the lake. A hummingbird was flitting around the tree in front of us, and we marveled at its smallness. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement in the next clearing over. The largest hawk I've ever seen was eating, dipping its head down and tearing pieces of flesh from it's evening meal. We strolled some more, zigzagging over part of the lake on an eightfold Japanese bridge, where we saw a huge white koi going after some water bugs.

After the Japanese garden, we strolled through the English Woodland garden and into the Victorian District area, developed around the home of Henry Shaw, the garden't founder. We meandered through the formal gardens, then climbed the steps to the top of an observatory. Coming back down, we managed to navigate through a maze made of yew hedges.

About that time our feet started to get tired, so we decided it was time to go. As we started towards home, air conditioner blasting, I thought about what a perfect night it had been.


  1. a trip to the botanical garden sounds amazing. i have only seen a few japanese gardens but the tranquility i receive from simple stepping through the landscape is palpable. hope you got some peace during the hot day. summer won't hang on forever:)

  2. Just reading about your trip around the gardens relaxes me and makes me want to make a trip there--when it is cooler! Yikes! It just sounds so peaceful. Thanks for taking us with you...

  3. What?!?! Why does the hawk get to picnic?? ;-)

    I love Shaw's Gardens. My parents have a membership so we go when it's not too hot. The other day they took the babies to play in the Children's Garden.

  4. Sounds absolutely beautiful. I've never seen a Japanese Garden, to think that you have such beauty only 20 minutes away from your home is amazing. It's hard to believe the heat you're getting there. I'd collapse after a half an hour of walking in it!

    I can sure see the tell tale signs of Autumn with the colors and few scattered leaves on the ground, I'm wondering how this can be so with such high temperatures.

    Enjoy your weekend!

  5. sounds like a lovely day. Even better, you were able to enjoy your picnic meal.

  6. That does sound fun. I would think it would not be as enjoyable during the heat of the day and with crowds of people. You picked the perfect time. 79 acres...that is just amazing!