Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You Should See The Bontanicles On This Garden

I know what you're thinking... "Jim, you blew it. A whole week went by and no post." Well, you're right to be angry. You should know that I do feel extraordinarily bad about missing posts, but that doesn't mean I haven't been "Observing" (I promise to never call it that again). It's the lamest and most overused excuse in the book that for some reason everyone just excepts when you say it, but I was busy. And I was visiting Chicago for a couple days which also counts as busy. No matter, I'm back to my (at least) weekly schedule of tying St Louis experiences to pop culture references and personal anecdotes. That's all there is to my style of blogging, by the way. It's simple chemistry. You could easily try this at home but I recommend parental supervision or at least safety goggles. I keep an emergency eye washing sink right next to my laptop for errant Blue Vitriol splashes. That precaution is taken from experience. True 7th grade story. Anywaaaays...
Children at a Pond
Guess what I did the weekend before last? I finally fulfilled my promise to go back to the Missouri Botanical Gardens when it actually was the season for plant-life to show itself. For all my children readers, plants are a lot like bears in that they kind of hibernate in the winter. Except, with bears, you need to be careful when coming across one in the forest. If it ever happens, DO NOT RUN. You're either supposed to make a lot of noise and try to scare it off, back away slowly, or offer it a fist bump in accordance with man-bear law #47. If it fist bumps you back be sure to "blow it up" when pulling your hand back. To not do so is a great bear insult. Anywaaaays...
This Lady is doing it wrong and will obviously be eaten
I have to commend the Botanical Gardens. This visit was much more enjoyable and, dare I say, beautiful. This place is made for bringing your camera. Well, probably not originally considering it opened in 1859 (Hey, it's the 150 year anniversary! I think that's your moon rock anniversary if I'm not mistaken). I hadn't been so inclined to take pictures in years. And it's not just the plants the are so picturesque. The historical buildings and sculptures also force you to capture the moment as the light hits them in certain ways. It's inescapable with all that they have there and it's hard not to find yourself looking at something with an artful eye. Now, I don't fancy myself a photographer, but it even made me feel like I took some quality images. Oh good news! The Terrordome doesn't look so terrifying in the Summer. And it's actually called the Climatron which is just about as cool of a name. And decidedly Transformer-like, no? Anywaaaays...

ClimatronflowersShadows at the Botanical Garden
I'm about to blow your mind. Ready? Don't worry, I'm exaggerating. Ready now? The Botanical Gardens appeal to all 6 of your senses. I know, it sounds crazy! Let me expand on this.
Vision: The Japanese Garden. This was absolutely my favorite place to be in. The pond and rock gardens give it a very tranquil feel as I would assume they were designed for. There are also lots of small paths to go exploring along with a gigantic mass of gigantic Carp with gigantic mouths to feed. The kids love that. This is the perfect area for a picnic or a wedding for that matter... One was taking place there that day.
Japanese GardenJapanese TreeThrough the Leaves
Touch and Smell: Early on in the walk of the gardens, near the Eastern wall there is the Sensory Garden. As soon as I came across this little stopped at gem I knew it was going to be an awesome day. The problem is that the area doesn't look like much. There are some small plants and a little path, but nothing that's eye-catching. Most people were walking right by it. Well they blew it. True to it's name, the Sensory Garden contains herbs and plants that either smell wonderful or are strange to the touch. Plants of note were the one that, once touched, smelled of chocolate (I can't remember the name... damn it) and the Lamb's Ear which felt exactly like what you would guess an actual lamb's ear would feel like. I love interactive exhibits!
Sound: Sweet lord there are tons of birds living in this place. You could hear chirps and songs from every direction. Add that to the sounds of the fountains and babbling streams. Then multiply all of that to the sound of trees in the breeze. Now double it. Yep. Music to my ears.
Taste: I can't say I partook in any eating while I was there, but The Missouri Botanical Gardens claims fame as being the home to the state's first Green restaurant. Sassafras reduces energy consumed and waste as it's green tag might suggest. It also has a cool name. Sassafras. I may eat there sometime just to get a Chicken and Black Bean Quesadilla which sounds deliciously awesome.
Creepiness: Yes, the sixth sense is creepiness. As noted in the Tornado post, history can be creepy and the Botanical Gardens is no exception. Enter one Henry Shaw. By all accounts, Henry Shaw was a good man albeit a slave owner. Tower Grove Park and the surrounding community were once all his land that he had donated to the city before his death. The Botanical Gardens itself was his property that he developed and opened to the public. His home still stands there to this day and, if you are so inclined, you are invited to take a walk through it to learn of the history of Shaw and the Botanical Gardens. There are pictures of St Louisans visiting through the years as well as former employees of Shaw's. The old pictures are great and really give you a sense of times past, but man is that creepy. Creepier still, they set the house up like Shaw still lives there. It's educational and all to see how people lived back then - but still. Weird. Oh, not creepy enough for you? How about the fact that Shaw is buried at the Botanical Gardens?
Henry Shaw Tomb
Yeah, you can go visit him at his creepy mausoleum where a marble statue of him lying there dead (Let's just pretend he's sleeping) is surrounded by glass. Also, you are welcome to sit down at a bench nearby where his ghostly statue welcomes you to rest. I chose to use this as a chance to make friends with him.
Henry Shaw Statue
Anywaaaays... I highly recommend a nice little Sunday trip with the fam or a loved one. Or even better, go during the week. They have free concerts there on Wednesday nights and Chuck Berry is playing on July 24th. Those Wednesday night shows in particular look pretty awesome. You're even allowed to bring your own picnic! I can't say this about too many places but I'm excited to go back. I feel like I probably missed a ton of cool stuff and, since I wrote about that Quesadilla, I've been craving one big time. Plus I miss Henry. He makes the best gardens.


Rebecca said...

i love your stories. especially the bear ones.
thanks for making yet another one of my days jim.

Anonymous said...

FYI, Thursday evenings during the summer there are local microbreweries and wineries at the garden as well.

Hera said...

Did you roast from the humidity in the Climatron? That's what I remember most about my first visit to the garden, how hot it was in there. I haven't done any of the Wednesday concerts there though. I'm looking forward to attending my first one this summer.

dellvt said...

This year Sept. 5-7 is the Japanese Festival which is head at the Botanical Gardens. Highly recommend attending.

Anonymous said...

I second delLvt on the Japanese Festival. It's one of the best things to visit in the area. I highly recommend it. Also, the jazz nights on Wednesday's are very good. Bring a blanket, some wine, and enjoy the music and people.