Missouri Botanical Garden

During my visit to Saint Louis, how could I possibly pass up the opportunity to visit the MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN. I had been there as a child and had very fond memories but now I anticipated viewing it in a completely different perspective. Along with my Aunt and Uncle and cousin Lisa, we spent a beautiful warm sunny fall day exploring the gardens which actually is impossible in one day. I don’t know how many miles we walked but I felt no need to get a run in that day. The garden is located in the city so it is very accessible to the whole community.

Linnean House
Linnean House
Ottoman Garden
Ottoman Garden
Ottoman Garden
Ottoman Garden
Sensory Garden
Sensory Garden
View of the Spink Pavilion
View of the Spink Pavilion

CHIHULY floating glass sculpture

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Climatron
Climatron
Entrance to the Chinese Garden
Entrance to the Chinese Garden
Center for Home Gardening
Center for Home Gardening

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Entering the BOXWOOD GARDEN

Boxwood garden
Boxwood garden
Callicarpa along the way
Callicarpa along the way
Great plant combinations
Great plant combinations
Plantings
Plantings
view from pavilion int Boxwood Garden
View from pavilion into Boxwood Garden
View into Boxwood Garden
View into Boxwood Garden
Entrance into English Woodland Garden
Entrance into English Woodland Garden
Garden at Tower Grove House
Garden at Tower Grove House
Wonderful evergreens at Tower Grove
Wonderful evergreens at Tower Grove

Entering our final garden, the magnificent , JAPANESE GARDEN

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Japanese Garden water vista
Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden

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As we were walking through the Japanese garden, I couldn’t help but think how magnificent this garden in particular would be in the winter, cold and brisk and covered in a dusting of snow. As lovely as it was in October I do really want to see it in January. How wonderful is that, to want to see a garden in the depths of Winter.

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Saint Louis University

A month ago I had the opportunity to return to the city where my parents grew up, St. Louis. It had been 20 years since I had been there and a small family reunion with a multitude of my favorite cousins, aunts and uncles was something I could not miss. So off with my parents in a 2000 Jaguar we were on a road trip to the mid west. Starting from northern Va. we headed south on route 81 through the Blue Ridge Mountains to route 64 into West Virginia, it was beautiful. To imagine our ancestors navigating that terrain is inspiring. Autumn was beginning to show its true colors as we passed through the hills and valleys into ravines and rounded bends. This was not just a trip to get somewhere but an excursion to be cherished.

New River Gorge
New River Gorge

On day 2 we made a short stop at The New River Gorge National River in West Virginia. I wish we had more time to hike and explore, but it is definitely on my list of majestic places in America, and will return. Finally on day 3 after traveling through Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois we arrived in Saint Louis.

Saint Luis University
Saint Luis University
Ponds and Plantings
Ponds and Plantings
New Lawn with view into city
New Lawn with view into city
Pots on a student path
Pots on a student path
New Landscaping
New Landscaping

We actually made a fortunate mistake and missed our exit onto a highway to bypass the city, placing us downtown at the front entrance of my Father’s alma mater, Saint Louis University. I don’t know who was more excited, me or him. We pulled over immediately so I could get a quick look at the campus. SLU is an urban university that according to my father was not particularly attractive or cohesive as a campus, but that has recently changed.

Porch view from historic building
Porch view from historic building
Sculpture by Student pathways
Sculpture by Student pathways
Sculpture in the lawn
Sculpture in the lawn

Streets have been closed to create an interior pedestrian friendly greenspace, buildings renovated, and new modern buildings incorporated. It was beautiful, teaming with student life and energy, a little jewel in the middle of the city. I ran back to the car and grabbed my father for him to see this miraculous transformation of his university. He eagerly showed me his old buildings were he spent many hours studying geology, and the chapel were his parents were married. But the most amazing of all was the green space that was created complete with lawn, ponds, flowing water, vistas into the city and lovely plantings. He was awe struck it was hard to believe the expansive, gorgeous transformation.  Elegant thoughtful landscaping had completely unified the campus into an oasis and a landmark for the city of St.Louis.

Back courtyard
Back courtyard
Pots in the back courtyard!
Pots in the back courtyard!

Island Garden

Due to Hurricane Sandy, I had the opportunity to create a brand new garden. Yes, that was almost 2 years ago. Two, maybe 30foot Spruces came down leaving a blank kidney shaped island on the far side corner of my front yard. It was not a space I ever payed any attention to, being far from any paths or having any interest other than blocking utility boxes and delineating the corner of my property. But what to do?(this is how I arrived at the title of this blog).

So many options, so many choices, it was overwhelming and it was only basically a 9′ x 18′ space. I spent a lot of time thinking. Way too much.  Then I began to feel very guilty because of the weed infestation, it is far from my front door and view but it is a mere 5′ from my neighbors driveway entrance. They had to look at it every time they arrived, left their home, or collected mail.

Just make a decision, come up with a plan, do something I kept telling myself. So one day with camera, pad and paper and tape measure, I developed a rough site plan measuring the distance to the street, driveway, utility boxes, noting sun and shade through out the day and noting views from the street and neighbors property etc. Just doing that allowed me to come up with some viable options. It was a huge relief. The project all of the sudden became fun.

At first I thought of creating a small conifer garden, but while at my garden center I stumbled across a Cotinus coggygria, Smoke tree. I love this plant, why had I not considered this before, didn’t have one, and no one in my neighborhood had one (was trying to add plant diversity). Great, I had a starting point with my Smoke tree, She was my foundation. I was so excited, I had made a decision out of many other good options. This was a good lesson. Now I could proceed with all of the other plantings.

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You know when you see a garden photo and think, I would love to have that look or combination and someday I’m going to do that, well I did it. A while ago I had marked a photo in a garden book, a grouping of

  • Verbena bonariensis, Tall verbena
  • Amsonia hubrechtii, Narrow-leaf blue star
  • Miscanthus sinensis, Maiden grass
  • Cotinus coggygria, Smoke tree                                                                                                                          had made my heart jump. With further research on companion plants I discovered light pale pastel colors and grasses work very well with smoke trees. So I added along with the plants listed above
  • Nepeta racemosa  ‘Walkers Low’  Catmint – light soft purply blue
  • Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’ Lungwort – low fuzzy spotted lance like leaves
  • Microbiota decussata  Russian Cypress  – will turn burgundy in the winter
  • Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’ Fountain Grass – very cute
  • Pinus mugo ‘Pumilio’ Dwarf Mugo Pine – small scale and winter interest
  • Rosa floribunda ‘Julia Child’ –  beautiful peachy pink flower, plus I have Julia Child in my garden!
  • transplanted from other gardens, Stonecrop, Lambs ears, and peach colored Daylilies.

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As for not paying attention to this spot due to lack of interest and distance I find myself visiting it throughout the day. Anytime I take the dogs out we visit ‘Julia’, to admire her lovely flowers, see how tall leggy Verbena is intermingling with fern like Amsonia, and to notice how ‘Little bunny’ is growing next to the catmintThere is so much to look at, it has become a new destination spot. I find when driving down the street I slow down the car and admire this tiny little garden and have noticed something new, a visual link to my next project…. The Side Garden.