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I-70 Gardens
Published:
May/Jun 2004

Above: The Kaeser Maze at the Misosuri Botanical Garden./Missouri Division of Tourism photo

Left: The focal point of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis is the Climatron,® a geodesic dome that is home to a tropical paradise. Jack Jennings photo

Below: Visitors to Powell Gardens near Kansas City enjoying some of the thousands of blooms scattered around the beautiful property. Missouri Division of Tourism photo

Before You Go
For more information, contact:

• White River Gardens, (317) 630-2001, www.whiterivergardens.com;

• Missouri Botanical Garden, (314) 577-9400, www.mobot.org;

• Powell Gardens, (816) 697-2600, www.powellgardens.org.

Stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks and TourBook guides. View a list of offices.

Order free information through the Reader Service Card online. Click on Reader Resources.

Interstate 70 links three spectacular Botanical Gardens in Missouri, Indiana
By Janice M. Kresin

Signs of spring surround us–budding bulbs, flowering redbuds and greening trees. As spring fever blossoms, indulge in the show put on by Mother Nature by going for a drive.

As a major east-west corridor, Interstate 70 speeds travelers through the Midwest. But consider taking time out to stop and smell the roses–and the daffodils, azaleas and wildflowers. There’s plenty of opportunity to explore gardens less than 30 miles from the interstate.

Botanical bliss

Visitors to Indianapolis won’t want to miss White River Gardens, which sits adjacent to the Indianapolis Zoo as part of White River State Park.

During the late-spring and summer months, five outdoor gardens–design, sun, shade, water and wedding–are the highlight of the exhibition.

Visitors enter through the Bud Schaefer Rotunda, which showcases a massive 360-degree mural with a whimsical gardening theme. From there, visitors may enter the Hilbert Conservatory, home to butterflies now through summer.

More than 800 wildflowers make their debut each spring in the shade garden. In summer, the design garden gets most of the attention. Made up of 12 garden rooms, the design garden was created as an educational, as well as aesthetic, tool. Bands of flowers with different colors and textures are interwoven to showcase patterns. Other rooms highlight symmetry, sculpture and layering techniques. All ideas can be tried in the visitors’ home gardens.
T
he White River Gardens are open in May on weekdays from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. During the summer, hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.–6 p.m. on weekends. Prices are $7 for adults; $6 for youth and seniors. Children age 1 and younger are free. Combo tickets with Zoo admission are available.

Historic gardens

Further west along I-70 in St. Louis is a highly acclaimed botanical garden worth adding to any trip itinerary.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark that features many spectacular gardens and three notable conservatories. One of those, the Linnean House, is the oldest continuously operating greenhouse conservatory in the United States. It was named for Carl Linnaeus, who developed the scientific system for naming plants and animals.

The signature element of the site is its Climatron® conservatory, a geodesic dome that holds a tropical paradise inside. Waterfalls, food-producing plants, water gardens and unique species delight all the senses. Guests wander through canopies of cacao trees (which provide the base for chocolate), bamboo, coffee and banana trees.

The outdoor gardens are equally remarkable. A highlight is the Japanese
garden, part of the international display that also features German, English and Chinese gardens.

The Japanese garden provides a tranquil retreat with spiritual significance. Its Japanese name–“Seiwa-en”–means “garden of pure, clear harmony and peace.”

Created with a reverence for natural beauty, the garden employs asymmetry, using groups of odd-numbered arrangements. In contrast to many American gardens, the Japanese garden uses earth tones like green, brown and black. Bright color is used sparingly as an accent. The garden also highlights the contrast between vertical and horizontal, as well as thick and thin lines.

Mystery is a large component of the Japanese garden, as it is designed to keep elements hidden from view, encouraging visitors to continue their journey.

Tram service is available to tour the garden. Guests meet near Ridgway Visitor Center.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is open from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, except Christmas. From Memorial Day through Labor Day the gardens stay open until 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Prices are $7 for adults; $5 for seniors. Children 12 and younger are free. Residents of St. Louis pay discounted rates.

Thirty-five miles west of St. Louis in Gray Summit, Mo., the Shaw Nature Reserve, which is operated by the Missouri Botanical Garden, is a place for nature enthusiasts. The reserve, off Interstate 44 at exit 253, offers more than 14 miles of nature trails through woodlands, wildflower areas and tallgrass prairie. The reserve is designed to maintain habitats for native Missouri species and is open from 7 a.m. until 30 minutes past sunset year-round. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors. Children 12 and younger are admitted for free.

Back to nature

Garden-lovers traveling near Kansas City won’t want to miss Powell Gardens, 30 miles southeast of the city in Kingsville, Mo. This largely outdoor garden exhibit is best enjoyed while leisurely strolling a trail through the grounds. Trolley service is available on weekends and provides several stops throughout the gardens.

Powell Gardens features a perennial garden, rock and waterfall garden, an island garden, wildflower meadow and a small conservatory.

Beginning May 22, visitors will witness the return of the “Big Bugs” exhibit, larger-than-life bugs made of natural materials that look at home in their natural setting.

The rock and waterfall garden is a must-see in May, when more than 700 azaleas create dramatic splashes of red, pink and yellow amidst the canopy of newly greening spring trees. This woodland setting includes peaceful streams and provides a nice respite from the sun.

The island garden, at the heart of Powell Gardens, features the longest living wall in the United States. The limestone wall stretches 600 feet and was constructed using natural material instead of mortar. The resulting wall showcases continuous blooms of a variety of plants that are ever changing.

The perennial gardens also feature staggered bloom times and showcase more than 1,200 varieties of plants.

The conservatory offers changing displays, culminating in the butterfly display in August (this year Aug. 13–15 and Aug. 20–22).

Opposite the visitor center, the wildflower meadow overlooks the entire gardens and provides a good view of the Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel, a Gothic-looking structure with windows on all sides and an intricate interlocking wood frame.

Garden hours are April through October from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. This year, Powell Gardens expands its hours for “Twilight in the Gardens” on the third Saturday of May, June and July. The gardens will be open until 8 p.m. those evenings and visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic. Hours from November through March are 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Prices are $7 adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for children age 5 to 12 from April through October. Prices from November through March are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $2 for children. For details, visit www.powellgardens.org.

In partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, Powell Gardens also maintains the Ewing and Murial Kauffman Memorial Garden in the heart of Kansas City along Brush Creek. This two-acre garden features an octagonal reflecting pool, teak benches, bronze sculptures and a small conservatory that houses seasonal plants and palm trees.

The garden is open daily in summer from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is no admission fee.

Janice M. Kresin is a contributor from Shawnee, Kan.

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