The Missouri Botanical Garden is considered by many as one of the top botanical gardens in the world. Garden founder Henry Shaw originally came to St. Louis in 1819 to sell hardware and cutlery, eventually amassing a fortune. Long interested in botany, his travels abroad inspired Shaw to build a garden in St. Louis like the great gardens and estates of Europe. The Missouri Botanical Garden (known as Shaw’s Garden by many in St. Louis) opened to the public in 1859. Today, it’s one of the oldest botanical institutions in the United States and a National Historic Landmark.

Its over 79 acres includes a 14-acre Japanese strolling garden, a Chinese garden, rose garden, English Woodland Garden, Ottoman Garden, the Climatron conservatory, one of the world’s largest collections of rare and endangered orchids and Garden founder Henry Shaw’s original 1850 estate home.

A few highlights:

Victorian District.  The Doris Harris Waters Lichtenstein Victorian District, opened in summer 2008, stretches from the enclosed Victory (of Science over Ignorance) sculpture to the eastern wall, back to founder Henry Shaw’s original city townhouse. (Photo: The Doris Harris Waters Lichtenstein Victorian District, courtesy: Missouri Botanical Garden

Kemper GardenThe Kemper Center for Home Gardening provides education and resources for Midwestern home gardeners through partnership with University of Missouri Extension. There are 23 display residential-scale gardens, including a city garden; butterfly garden; secret garden; family vegetable garden; fragrance garden; ornamental displays for landscaping, lawns and shrubs; rock, shade and flower trial gardens; children’s garden; herb garden; garden for attracting birds; and  demonstration gardens.

Strassenfest German GardenThe Strassenfest German Garden features native flora of Germany and central Europe, in a woodland setting of herbaceous perennials, as well as deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs.

The Fragrance Garden features some of the best fragrance plants for the St. Louis area on display, including examples of shrub and antique roses.

The Children’s Garden is open Mar. 30 through Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63110, (314) 577-5100. Open daily, closed Christmas Day.

Website: Missouri Botanical Garden