Holiday Exhibit Celebrates Milestone

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Families enjoy the fresh flowers and moving trains in the Gardenland Express display at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.
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A G-scale model train travels through the Gardenland Express holiday flower and train show at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.
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Poinsettias and flowers surround the Gardenland Express holiday flower and train show at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.

St. Louis – For 150 years, the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis has been a top destination for visitors seeking a scenic respite among bountiful blooms. Winter is no exception. Since 1915, the garden has blended plants with seasonal décor in an indoor holiday spectacle enjoyed by all ages.

In 2009, the “Gardenland Express” holiday flower and train show celebrates 150 Years of the Garden through a vibrant spectrum of bold botanicals. See the festive showcase on display Wednesday, November 25, through Sunday, January 3, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (closes at 4 p.m. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve; closed Christmas Day).

“This year’s show is a departure from the traditional notion of our holiday flower show,” says Pat Scace, floral display designer. “For our sesquicentennial, we really wanted to ‘wow’ visitors with something they’ve never seen. This year’s display is truly a celebration of the botanical diversity of the garden.”

Eight G-scale model garden trains will travel along 800 feet of railway track in the Orthwein Floral Display Hall, through a colorful palette of oranges, purples, reds, lime greens and more. A few of the holiday show’s traditional inclusions will be given a trendy twist, from the poinsettia ‘Orange Spice’to the hot hue of ‘Polly’s Pink.’ Others will highlight the opposite spectrum of time, such as the amaryllis Hippeastrum x johnsonii, which dates back to the Victorian era. Unexpected tropicals and large palms will deck the hall in a botanical bonanza. See blue-grey triangle palms, Oxalis ‘Charmed Wine’ and deep ‘Charmed Velvet,’ Chrysanthemum ‘Green Valley’ and ‘Ivory Eugene,’ Begonia ‘Black Coffee,’ Hibiscus acetosella ‘Maple Sugar,’ Syngonium ‘Golden Illusion,’ lime green coleus and more.

A diamond-shaped criss-cross floor plan outlines four perimeter display areas, each showcasing Missouri Botanical Garden landmarks in miniature. Look for the historic Linnean House conservatory, Museum Building, Chinese Garden pagoda, Piper Observatory, Tower Grove House (founder Henry Shaw’s original country estate) and more, replicated through models with some botanical surface treatments. Archival images highlighting the institution’s 150-year history will line the walls in a tribute timeline.

At the show’s center, a water feature is accented by regal stone columns in a style similar to the garden’s entrance. Urns and wrought iron garden décor add to the Victorian scene. Winding in and out of the landscape, finely detailed foot-long locomotives chug along railway tracks, tooting their horns and delivering faux freight and passengers to their holiday destinations. Trains have been a nostalgic addition to the garden’s holiday flower show since 2003, harkening back to the seasonal storefront window displays of yester-year.

The 2009 “Gardenland Express” holiday flower and train show is sponsored by CBIZ & Mayer Hoffman McCann, P.C.; Central States Coca-Cola Bottling Co.; Miss Marian L. Herr; Hobby Station; and Mr. and Mrs. William R. Orthwein Jr.

Admission to “Gardenland Express” is $5 for ages 3 and over, in addition to general garden admission ($8 adults; $4 St. Louis city and county residents; free for children age 12 and under). Garden members and their children are free. Starting in November, tickets can be purchased in advance from the website.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in south St. Louis, easily accessible from Interstate 44 at the Vandeventer exit. Free parking is available on-site and at two blocks west at the corner of Shaw and Vandeventer. The garden is easily accessible by taking the MetroLink commuter rail line to the Central West End station and picking up a Metro bus.

For general information, call the recorded event line at 314-577-9400 or toll-free 800-642-8842., or visit the website.

Starting in early November, catch a glimpse of the show installation in progress online at the website, and click on “Activities and Events.”

The Missouri Botanical Garden is the oldest continually operating botanical garden in the nation, celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2009. The garden’s mission is “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment, in order to preserve and enrich life.” Today, 150 years after opening, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display.