Just Visiting: Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO

Life, and the Art of Accessibility

Part 1: The Grounds

I will admit it: the Missouri Botanical Garden (MoBot) is my gold standard — “the best, most reliable, or most prestigious thing of its type.”

It is the botanical garden I know most intimately, since it is only a few miles from my home. I have walked it (when I had functioning hips) countless mornings through every sort of St. Louis weather. I have taken thousands of photographs, some that I’ve published in Flickr, others I’ve exhibited. Now that my major exercise is via wheelchair, MoBot’s universal accessibility design is what I use, consciously and subconsciously, to contrast and compare other facilities.

As I said, MoBot is my standard. Only 75 acres within the city limits of St. Louis, this place was once Henry Shaw’s country estate. It is lovingly cared for by staff and volunteers, and hosts several festivals throughout the year.


It features several themed and educational gardens, including the English Woodland Garden, the world-famous Japanese Garden, and the Kemper Center for Home Gardening.


This venue is fairly easy to maneuver — most grades are easy, with a couple that are challenging – such as the slope from the Japanese Garden to the George Washington Carver Garden, but if you take your time with them, you’ll have very little difficulty. I have not found one slope or ramp where I feared losing control of the wheelchair.

While it is not perfect, for the most part, some serious thinking went into the accessibility design for this garden.  — Except for the handicap stall in the Women’s Room in lower level of the Kemper Center: I’m not sure what they were thinking about when they slapped that one in….

In fairness, at this visit I did not try maneuvering through several of the buildings: The Linnean House, The Climatron, and The Temperate House. I was enjoying being outside in the sun and the brisk breeze, and by going into the buildings (especially The Climatron), my lens would have fogged up. In a month or two, when the temperature moderates, I’ll tackle those and review them.

I did, however use the handicap-accessible restroom at the Japanese Garden (a little difficult to get into, since the main entry door is not assisted), and I browsed the goodies in the Garden Gate Shop. The shop has plenty of room for browsing, and most items are within arms’ reach. Staff members were courteous and offered to help without sounding like they were being bothered, even though it was a very busy late morning (a plus in my book!).






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