23 August 2012

STL adventures: Missouri Botanical Gardens

When Mr. P and I first moved to St. Louis and met a new local, they instantly told us that we should check out the Missouri Botanical Gardens, minutes away from our house. MoBot, they call it, apparently, in some sort of desire to both make the gardens sound futuristic while also J-Lo-izing the name. And we had to check it out soon, because there was a temporary Chinese Lantern exhibit that we shouldn’t miss! Or so they said!

So when my parents came to visit, waaaay back before Mr. P and I traveled all over the place and got ourselves jobs, we did indeed check out the Chinese Lanterns at MoBot. We went during the day, even though the temperatures were topping a hundred degrees, because admission cost five times more at night when the lanterns were lit. And you dear readers all know that I happen to be cheap. But our visit to the gardens was still fun despite the heat!

I was excited to see a humongous Chihuly piece suspended from the ceiling of the entrance lobby:

But that was just a prelude to the lanterns outside. Admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect. Would it just be a bunch of paper spheres suspended everywhere? Paper... cubes... suspended everywhere? I was having trouble imagining what lanterns would be so highly recommended.

Obviously I wasn’t thinking big enough. Then again, have you ever seen a lantern-fountain?

There was this stunning multi-color dragon just around the corner:

And as we progressed, the lanterns got even bigger, creating entire scenes. A lantern tableau, if you will!

Though bigger is not always better. The faces on this lantern scene are a little creepy, yes? Like if you imagine them glowing in the darkness? Shudder.

In honor of the lantern festival, the whole botanical gardens became China-themed, with a (supposedly) Chinese “wishing tree”, hands-on exhibits about China for the kiddos, and Chinese trinkets for sale. But my favorite non-lantern China exhibit was this dragon:

Why? Well, can you see what it’s made of?

Teacups and saucers and plates! The whole thing! Isn’t that neato?

Of course, the Chinese exhibits usually aren’t the stars of the show at MoBot. Instead the more permanent exhibits get the attention – you know, the plants.

There were tons of plants everywhere, but we had to skip about two-thirds of the gardens (which are HUGE) because of the heat. The little we saw was fascinating! Like this little pitcher plant:

I wished I had some ants or something to feed it. And what are those pink waving arm-things it has in back? Hmm.

And the biologist in me also wondered why the petals on these flowers spiral around the buds:

Anyone? The google-machine hasn’t figured it out for me yet.

But the one must-see plant exhibit during our visit was the rose garden. My stepdad loves gardening in general, but his two hundred carefully-tended rose bushes are his favorite. So of course he needed to survey MoBot’s selection:

The front yard of my parents’ house looks remarkably similar, so we had to fight the temptation to “borrow” a few cuttings for him to take with him.

Now that the weather’s cooler, Mr. P and I will need to stop by again and see the rest of the gardens – even sans lanterns. Because unfortunately, the exhibit closed down... like... last weekend. Hope you didn’t want to see it! And while I love to share our St Louis adventures with you, perhaps you should, as a general rule, not count on me for the timeliest reviews of St. Louis attractions.