The Arch City Gardener

Journeys In St. Louis Gardening and Beyond

A Sunday Stroll Through the Missouri Botanical Garden in July

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Gomphrena and grassesGardener or not, a visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden is a pleasant way to while away an afternoon. Today’s overcast skies were perfect for viewing all the vibrant blooms.

Right now my favorite area is the Kemper Home Gardening Center and its associated demonstration gardens. Here you can see all sorts of containers, butterfly gardens, kitchen gardens and the All American Selections demonstration. It’s a great place for inspiration and ideas.

If there’s one theme I’d give the garden this summer it would be lush and high-contrast. Plantings with hot shades of purple, green, yellow and orange that contrast with dark hues of black like the giant grass below are common. I don’t know the name of this tall purple grass paired with vinca but it’s spectacular.

Tall purple grass

Green and black elephant ears surround a mass bed of lipstick pink vinca. As you can see, vinca grows quite well in our summer heat. So do the elephant ears.Elephant ears and vincaKeeping to the purple and black theme, how about these tomatoes? They’re called Indigo Rose tomatoes. I’d never seen an artichoke growing until today.

Indigo Rose tomatos


I’ve seen lots of posts on Pinterest for pallet gardens. This one is on steroids.

Pallet gardening

Coleus is predominant in many groupings. Here maroon coleus–accented with chartreuse coleus–rises above coral toned vinca. This is one side of the entrance to the children’s playground and you pass it on the Kemper Center. The large haybasket probably weighs a lot and such a structure would most likely pull down my fence. Here it has plenty of support.
Entrance to Children's Garden

All is not pink, purple and black in the garden. The garden designers are far more versatile. This collection of black eye Susans and ornamental millet is an interesting combination of form and texture. I like the cat-tail bloom on the millet. I’ve not seen this in a nursery here but would try it in a container next year.

bes and millet

Of course, there are lots of black eyed Susan cultivars in the cutting garden.

Black eyed susans at Kemper

The Japanese garden with its tranquil lake and gently sloping hills lies beyond the demonstration gardens in the further reaches of the garden. It’s a nice place to sit and relax or feed the carp. In spring, blooming azaleas and dogwoods make this section of the garden a popular destination. Here you can enjoy a large selection of pines, dogwoods, barberries and maples.

Japanese Garden bridge

Japanese garden

Winding my way back to main entrance, and continuing on the tranquil vibe, I made a leisurely stop at the Bakewell Ottoman Garden, a small walled garden planted in the gardening tradition of the Ottomans. Istanbul, which was home to the Imperial capital of the Ottoman Empire, and St. Louis lie on the roughly the same latitude, which means we can grow a lot of the same plants.

Ottoman Garden

Apparently there are no surviving types of this style garden, which was developed between the 16th and  19th centuries. The plantings here are primarily naturalized or native to Turkey. Hard fruits such as pomegranate and Meyer lemons are planted in pots throughout the garden. Currently, alternating pink and white beds of dianthus are bordered by germander but the garden is well known for its Turkish tulip and bulb display in the spring.

Ottoman garden pond

Oleander and columbine line one wall of the garden. The fountain is inviting and looks refreshing on a hot summer day.


A mass of shasta daisies sway in the breeze. Ottoman Shasta daisy

Although I live just 15 minutes from this city jewel, I don’t get there near enough. Today, I am glad I took the time


Author: mjarz

Welcome to the Arch City Gardener. My name is Mimi and I started this blog to share my journeys in learning to garden in St. Louis County, Missouri and learn more from my readers who garden. Thanks for reading The Arch City Gardener.

One thought on “A Sunday Stroll Through the Missouri Botanical Garden in July

  1. I’ve been to the MBG at least three times this year, but I’ve never seen the Bakewell Ottoman Garden — where is that? The large purple grass in the 2nd photo is probably pennisetum ‘Vertigo’, and since I started growing it a couple of years ago has become my favorite!

    (Glad to see you posting again!)

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