See Columbia at its most beautiful with a visit to these gardens. Admission is free to all.
Shelter Insurance Gardens
1817 W. Broadway
Open: Year-round (except Christmas Day), 8 a.m. to dusk
Accessibility: Partially wheelchair accessible.
At Shelter Insurance Gardens, stone-and-wrought-iron gates open to six acres with more than 15,000 annuals and perennials and more than 300 varieties of trees and shrubs. Special features include a goldfish pond and waterfall, a rock garden, a rose garden, a shade garden, a sensory garden for the blind, a Vietnam veterans’ memorial and a replica 19th-century one-room schoolhouse. A representative of every variety of plant life in the gardens has botanical information listed for the species, including its scientific and common names.
Shelter Insurance Gardens is a place for family picnics, weddings and a peaceful stroll. Summer brings the live music of local bands during the Shelter Garden Concert series on Sunday evenings.
Mizzou Botanic Garden
University of Missouri-Columbia
Guided tours: Available upon request for groups. Call 573-884-6307 or 573-882-1830.
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible
The Mizzou Botanic Garden covers the entire University of Missouri campus. More than 6,000 trees and 20,000 perennials, bulbs and annuals enhance the beauty of the university’s historic architecture, artwork and sculptures. In the 705-plus acres of developed landscape to explore, there are 11 theme gardens, seven special plant collections (such as a Siberian iris garden, a coneflower garden and perennial phlox garden) and three tree trails. Garden maps are available online and at the Reynolds Alumni Center. Campus Facilities staff choose the plants for their beauty, adaptability to Missouri’s climate and their educational value to students and visitors. Plants and trees are labeled.
Darwin and Axie Hindman Discovery Garden
2001 E. Broadway
www.gocolumbiamo.com — The garden’s page is under “Stephen’s Lake Park” in “Parks and Rec.”
Open: Year-round 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible
Dedicated in October 2012 as a tribute to Columbia’s longest-serving mayor and his wife, the Darwin and Axie Hindman Discovery Garden at Stephens Lake Park illustrates the impact of horticulture in human lives through a series of four themed gardens: Plant Communities, Grow to Know Your World, Council Ring, and Art and Science of Horticulture. The 2.3 acres can be leisurely toured in about a half-hour.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at Battle Garden
800 W Stadium Blvd
www.gocolumbiamo.com — The garden’s page is under “Trails” in “Parks and Rec.”
Open: Year-round, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible.
The highlight of this garden is the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument that educates visitors on the life and words of this Civil Rights hero. There is a semi-circular earth mound built into the site, and the interior of the mound is faced with five circular steps formed with granite. The stone steps are smooth and invite sitting, as though a small amphitheater. On the top of the mound stand eight triangular upright columns.
Plants of interest include specimen trees, such as Weeping White Pines, Sunburst Honeylocust and a flowering cherry tree planted in 1993 by visiting students from Columbia’s sister city of Hakusan, Japan. Other flowering plants include shrub roses, peonies and lilies. There is a reservable shelter with picnic tables. The garden can be leisurely toured in a half hour.
Want To Join A Garden Club?
Friendship blooms in these local garden clubs.
Columbia Garden Club
Meets at 1 p.m. the second Monday of each month (except July and August) at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1600 W. Rollins Road. Activities include monthly tours or programs on garden-related topics, annual tours of members’ gardens and a Standard Flower Show for members to enter. Members also work on numerous community projects, such as conducting garden therapy with residents at The Bluffs, and providing seeds and teaching gardening skills to patrons of The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri. The Annual Plant Sale, Bake Sale and Garden Bazaar is open to the public and offers locally grown vegetable plants, large tomato plants, herbs, annuals, perennials, houseplants, shrubs and grasses, as well as baked goods and garden bazaar items. Annual dues are $20. For more information, contact Rita Gerke at 573-474-3393 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Discovery Garden Club
Meets from 6:30 to 8 p.m. the second Monday of the month (except December) at the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association Building, 2306 Bluff Creek Drive. The club offers informative meetings featuring local experts on a wide range of topics and also organizes educational field trips and garden tours. Together with the Columbia Public Library, the club sponsors an annual Winter Garden Forum for the community. Annual dues are $15 for an individual or $20 for a family. For more information, email email@example.com.
Heart Of Missouri Master Gardeners
Meets the third Tuesday of each month (except December) at 6 p.m., usually at the Boone County Extension office, 1012 N. Hwy. UU.
The purpose of this organization is to assist the University of Missouri and Lincoln University with educating the general public on horticulture and gardening practices. Membership is limited to those who have successfully completed a University of Missouri Extension Master Gardener training course and who have paid Heart of Missouri Master Gardener Chapter dues and Missouri Master Gardener Association dues. The Master Gardener course can be taken either online or in a classroom setting. For more information about taking the class, contact Beth Carter at the Boone County Extension Office, firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-445-9792.