Saturday, May 25, 2013

Shaw Nature Center, St. Louis, Missouri

Today, Stop # 15 on our 2013 Summer Tour was at the Shaw Nature Reserve thirty-five miles southwest of St. Louis.

The Shaw Center has 2,441 acres of natural beauty which include fourteen miles of hiking trails.  It was purchased in 1925 as part of the expansion of the Missouri Botanical Garden.  The increasing level of smog in the air of the city of St. Louis was having an adverse effect on their world famous orchid collection  So land was purchased some distance away from the city in order to find space in which the orchids might again flourish.

This area, the Shaw Nature Reserve, has nothing to do with those orchids.  Its purpose is "to inspire responsible stewardship of our environment through education, restoration, and protection of natural habitats and through public enjoyment of the natural world."  That last purpose, to promote "public enjoyment of the natural world" describes today for us. 

The above quote from theologian Soren Kierkegaard was posted prominently in the restrooms at the Visitor's Center.  We decided to heed its advice, so we started walking. 

We began our exploration in the five acre Whitmire Wildflower Garden.

All the plants, shrubs and trees in this wildflower garden are native to Missouri.
Many of the beds included plants and grasses I consider weeds (and would pull out!) but, in that setting even the weeds were beautiful.
The variety of colors were a delight to our eyes.
Some of the flowers, like this wisteria, were familiar to us.  Most were not.
So we were very thankful for the labels identifying some of those floral beauties.
Paths criss-crossing thru the wildflower garden invited us to hike further.

Our truck provided us a picnic shelter for lunch and space for a short siesta while a rain storm delayed our hike.  When it was past, we set out on one of the hiking trails.  Past restored prairies, ponds, tree stands of pines and hardwoods, and over a small creek we hiked and back to our starting point.  We had hiked nearly five miles!
I was glad to find a spot to sit down and rest -- and make faces at myself in the reflecting pool!
Tomorrow we're off to Peoria, Illinois for a family visit.  These two days in St. Louis have been exciting, but exhausting.  We'll be glad for a quieter pace for a few days.