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Learning from the Land

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 5, 2010

once a fescue field. A trail, boardwalk and observation blind allow visitors a close-up look at wetland wildlife. Night hikes, led by Arboretum staff, help visitors experience the nocturnal sights and sounds of the wetlands.

To demonstrate how elements of Missouri’s natural communities can be incorporated into human habitats, the Whitmire Wildflower Garden was developed in 1991, under the direction of Scott Woodbury, horticulture supervisor. The wildflower garden features an assemblage of glade, prairie, pine savanna, aquatic and woodland gardens, including more than 600 species of native plants. Recently, a home demonstration garden was added, as well as an Osage garden that displays plants used by Native Americans for medicine and other purposes.

Nearby is the site for a new visitor’s center that will represent future goals of the Arboretum. The center will serve as a portal to educational opportunities and will entice visitors to go outside and explore the natural world.

"The center will also help visitors learn about sustainable living, about how to live more in tune with nature," says Behrer.

The center’s heating and cooling system will be a solar-powered ground-source heat pump. It also will use native aquatic plants to clean water in its septic system. The water will then flow to a woodland pond to support amphibians.

After 75 years of land stewardship, Shaw Arboretum is experiencing a renaissance of natural diversity. More visitors than ever are able to learn about the natural world - and their place in it - by exploring the Arboretum. Thanks to the hard work of the people who have cared for it, future generations will be able to, as well.

Shaw Arboretum is at the intersection of Interstate 44 and Highway 100 in Gray Summit. Hours are 7:00 a.m. to 1/2 hour past sunset daily. The Visitor's Center is open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. The Bascom House is closed Mondays and open 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. (Bascom House hours in January and February are 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.)

Arboretum admission is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for those aged 65 and over, free for children 12 and under. Admission is free for Missouri Botanical Garden members and Shaw Arboretum pass holders. For more information view www.mobot.org and click on Arboretum or call (636) 451-3512.

The Joseph H. Bascom House

The Joseph H. Bascom House is an elegant testament to the history of land use at Shaw Arboretum. Confederate Colonel T.W.B. Crews built the home in 1879 and farmed the surrounding land. Restored in the early 1990's, the building houses the "People on the Land" exhibits, developed in partnership with the Conservation Department, which depict the history of land use in the Meramec River Valley over the last 12,000 years.

"In addition to the exhibits," says Arboretum construction manager Dave Hicks, who oversaw the Bascom House restoration," the house itself helps people understand the history of our use of natural resources." From the restoration of the original transoms, which help rid rooms of hot air in the summer, to the installation of a modern energy-saving ground-source heat pump, the Bascom House features many examples of sustainable energy use.

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