Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden while visiting St. Louis. The 79-acre national landmark features a beautiful display of flowers, herbs and plants from across the world, including an amazing orchid garden, a Japanese strolling garden, a geodesic dome, an arid-climate garden, a Victorian garden (complete with hedge maze), a rose garden and even an iris garden.
The first stop on the tour, conveniently located near the restrooms, was the orchid garden. Lately, I have become fascinated with orchids. Right now, I have a 4-foot moth orchid (Phalaenopsis amabilis) and a jungle monarch orchid (Oncidium maculatum), both of which are doing surprisingly well. However, neither of them are nearly as exotic as some of the ones in the display! This is a Brassia rising star, which is a spider-like orchid.
These beautiful red flowers, which I believe to be ginger blossoms, were everwhere in the geodesic "rainforest" dome of the garden called the Climatron. The Climatron is the first climate controlled green-house dome of its kind and, in my opinion, the single most fascinating part of the botanical gardens.
Here are a couple shots of the interior of the Climatron geodesic green-house dome. The dome covers a half-acre area and contains thousands of plant species - a microcosm of the rainforest. It includes a handful of tropical, medicinal herbs and spices such as banyan (used to treat diabetes), ginger (for motion-sickness), neem (a repellant against viruses, bacteria and insects, such as lice), pineapple (aids in the treatment of swelling and inflammation), artemisia (calms stomach aches and fever), nutmeg (said to fight diarrhea) turmeric (a spice in curry that may reduce the risk of cancer) and wild plum (used for treating various skin conditions like acne and eczema).
In the footer of our trip, we visited the extensive gift shop, where, in addition to the many garden tools, plants and books for sale, there was one item I just couldn't leave without. Meet Henry the Talking Gnome.
Simply press and hold the button on Henry's foot, record your message and listen to a gnome-version of your voice peep from your new petite pal. Hours of fun if you're like me, and one of the highlights of our trip. I would definitely recommend this as a gift. While it was a little pricey, the gnome should be sure to get a laugh out of you and your friends.
Fortunately for us, the talking gnome has created something of a cult-following on YouTube, spawning hundreds of "webisodes" of the gnome's life. See one YouTube user's demonstration of the talking gnome below, and follow this link to get your own! Tell them The Garden Gnome sent you.