Friday, August 3, 2019
The Missouri Botanical Garden, known informally as Shaw’s Garden, holds Garden Party Lights, a fundraiser, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening from mid-spring through mid-fall. Admission for adults varies but as non-members on a regular night we paid $20 each. Tickets can be purchased in advance.
The event starts at 6:00 PM when the Biergarten and Cohen Cantina open. The Biergarten sells hot dogs, bratwurst, salads, snacks, beer and wine. The cantina only sells beer and wine.
After purchasing tickets and/or presenting tickets to the ticket taker in the Visitor Center, event goers will walk past the restrooms and gift shop before climbing the stairs (or taking the elevator) to the second level where they can walk out the back of the building into the garden.
There was one gift shop surprise. Butterfly Adventure Wings, provided by Rhode Island Novelty, are the perfect gift for the imaginative five to eight year old. Kids slip their arms through straps under the wings and are ready to fly. Excellent play prop.
We arrived a little after 6:00 and headed out back toward the garden. Just before the doors going into the garden, there was a photo booth of sorts. Inside a bright ring of LED lights was an iPad running a photo booth app. The app took pictures and would send a link to those pictures to a visitor supplied phone number.
The photo booth picture quality wasn’t that great but it was fun to do.
Out the back doors and down some steps, then to the left toward Linnean House. Along the side of Linnean House is a large white canvas tent over the Biergarten.
There was a line to get food and/or drinks when we arrived. The line moved quickly. We ordered four bratwursts, chips and water. The father-in-law ordered a beer. The women at the cash register apologized. The only water available from the Biergarten came in metal cups with plastic lids and cost $7 each. As an alternative, they could provide a normal throwaway plastic cup with ice. We could fill these cups at one of the many Hydration Stations located throughout the facility. The closest was in the Visitor Center.
While we ate and drank, a musician played instrumentals. His guitar was the first chrome guitar I’ve seen. Cool guitar. I put five dollars in the hat.
After dinner, we walked around the gardens. We walked past an American Sycamore Tree, the largest hardwood tree native to North America. On to the Climatron.
To oversimplify, the Climatron is a large domed greenhouse sustaining tropical plants.
The plants and ecosystem in the Climatron are hard to categorize. It doesn’t feel steamy humid like I imagine the tropics to be and yet it houses plants that appear to be tropical plants. The Climatron temperature and humidy seemed lower than the outside air. Regardless, some of the blooms were amazing and weirdly beautiful.
Outside, the setting sun highlighted flowers growing in the many garden beds.
With the setting sun behind the Climatron, the sun’s golden rays glinted off the reflecting pool. Scattered around the Botanical Garden grounds are a number of high quality sculptures. Amazing sculptures. Everywhere.
My companions, tired from walking around, decided that we would go back to the Biergarten for water and pretzels. We arrived back at the Biergarten just in time to see the workers remove the pretzel display from the order counter. When we asked for pretzels, we were told they had run out. We bought chips instead.
Getting drinking water at the Botanical Garden was more complicated than it needed to be. Cups with ice or $7 water bottles at the Biergarten. I remembered vending machines in the Visitor Center near the restrooms and headed over there to find water. Soft drinks were available. Energy drinks were available. Ice tea with sugar was available. All in plastic bottles that are so environmentally friendly. The Vending machine slots for water were empty.
Just outside the Visitor Center. A young woman was selling water. In boxes. $3 a pop. I bought three. I’m not sure I would agree with the printed message on the water box. the water had a distinct cardboard bouquet. Whatever.
As twilight turned to darkness, the lights and the music came on. The music with some light displays made for happy dancing children’s feet.
We made our way back to through the Visitor Center to the parking lot. Then on to home.
Despite the challenges finding water to drink we had a fun time. The after dark lighting was no more interesting or amazing than neighborhood Christmas light displays. The laser light show was not nearly as impressive as other laser light shows we have seen. The bratwurst could have been cooked a little bit longer.
It was the time spent with family while walking through a beautiful clean and safe park like environment that made the evening special. The Missouri Botanical Garden was just the backdrop to our pleasant adventure.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!