Who says it isn’t easy being green? St. Louis has a number of green places for your group to “dig in” and take a garden tour.
Originating in 1837 as an orchard and roadside farmstand, Eckert’s Farm is now one of the largest family-owned and operated pick-your-own orchards in the United States. The Eckert family operates orchards, general stores, and a fun farm in Millstadt, Belleville, and Grafton, Illinois, as well as an orchard in Versailles, Kentucky. They also run the Eckert’s Country Restaurant, Country Store, and Garden Center, all located at their Belleville location.
Citygarden is a vibrant and serene blending of lush plantings and internationally-renowned sculpture with delights of water, stone, architecture and design. Surrounded by no fences or gates, and with no admission fee, Citygarden is completely open and accessible to the public 365 days a year. There is nothing quite like it in the downtown of any American city. In addition to its sculpture, magnificent plantings, great water features the garden features a remarkable hardscape, including a 550-foot long arcing limestone wall inclosing a large video wall for videos and movies; a glass wall café named Death in the Afternoon and day and night time events.
St. Louisans have been buying their fresh produce, spices, meats, cheeses and baked goods at Soulard Farmers Market since 1779. It’s America’s oldest continuously operating public market, and the last survivor of once numerous public markets in St. Louis. The market is open year-round, Wednesday – Saturday.
Lafayette Square is a reminder of Victorian St. Louis during the last quarter of the 19th century. Lafayette Park is the focal point of the square, and it remains the only land within the city that has never been under private ownership. The 30-acre park was platted in 1836, making it not only the oldest of city parks, but also the first park west of the Mississippi River. In 1973 the U.S. Congress placed Lafayette Square on the National Register of Historic Places, and a Historic Code preserves the neighborhood for future generations. Lafayette Park, planned as an extension of the St. Louis Commons, was originally reserved for public use as pasture and farm land in the European tradition. Today, a variety of special events take place during warmer weather, including free concerts from the bandstand and outdoor movies.
In 1868, Henry Shaw, the man who established the Missouri Botanical Garden, gifted the citizens of St. Louis with a “grand pleasure park,” named Tower Grove Park. In addition to the more than 8,000 trees and shrubs he imported from around the world, Shaw commissioned brightly colored Victorian pavilions and sculptures that remain today. The park is home to softball, soccer, tennis, cork ball and Frisbee games, as well as to the strollers, joggers, and picnickers who visit the park to escape the hustle and bustle of city living.
The Missouri Botanical Garden is praised in National Geographic for its unparalleled efforts to catalog plants from the world’s rain forests. The 79-acre Garden has been a St. Louis institution since 1859. At the Climatron geodesic greenhouse, the mysterious world of the rainforest comes alive with lush vegetation and up-close views of exotic plants, free-flying birds and bubbling waterfalls.
At the Garden’s Kemper Center for Home Gardening, you can discover ways home gardeners can utilize their land effectively using environmentally safe fertilizing and pest-control methods. Specialty gardens demonstrate how to attract butterflies, bees and birds and the Center’s “plant doctor” helps diagnose gardening problems and propose eco-safe solutions to common garden problems.
Forest Park is a lush, green oasis at the edge of the city limits in the Central West End neighborhood. The park, which officially opened to the public on June 24, 1876, is one of the largest urban parks in the country and is 500 acres larger than New York’s Central Park. Each year, it attracts 12 million human visitors and serves as a respite for migrating birds and an integrated ecosystem where humans and nature interact. Forest Park is a popular spot for golf, tennis, bicycling, boating, fishing, handball, skating, roller blading, jogging, and rugby. It is also home to the Jewel Box, an Art Deco greenhouse filled with floral displays, tropical trees, and foliage plants. The Jewel Box is listed on the National Historic Registry for its stunning architecture and greenhouse design.
View restored plant and animal habitats at the Shaw Nature Reserve, a 2,500-acre experimental ecological reserve filled with tracts of tall prairie grass, wildflower glades, wetlands and woodlands. A 300-foot boardwalk allows visitors a close-up and dry-footed look at a portion of the 20-acre wetlands area and its animal inhabitants. Enhance your visit by attending a class or program on ecology, crafts or gardening.
At the Butterfly House and Education Center in Faust Park, scores of gorgeous butterflies flutter about as visitors stroll the conservatory paths at the Butterfly House and learn of this delicate creature’s powerful impact on our environment.
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