Last Friday, I had the rarest of opportunities for a working parent -- a child-free vacation day. My son was spending a week with his grandparents, so I decided to spend my day off visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden (aka MoBot) in St. Louis. I was hoping that my April 2 visit would coincide nicely with the spring bloom season in St. Louis, where spring bulbs, trees and shrubs historically bloom a couple of weeks earlier than ours in Central Illinois.
Since the magnolia had just starteed to fully open here in town, I was afraid I might be a bit late for their peak bloom in St. Louis. My fears were exacerbated when I walked into the gardens and was greeted by a Loebner Magnolia where many of the blooms had already fallen to the ground on a day that was becoming increasingly breezy as the temperatures rose.
As I made my way around the azalea-rhododendron garden, I could see more magnolia further into the garden, starting with a small grove of saucer magnolia that border the Gladney Rose Garden near the visitor center. At the south entrance to the magnolia grove is the sculpture 'ZeroGee' by Paul T. Granlund, where three children seem to be floating on the same breeze that brought the sweet scent of the magnolia drifting my way.
Among the magnolia of MoBot, there was a truly breathtaking specimen south of the bulb garden along the way toward the iris and daylily gardens. It was a saucer magnolia called 'Picture' (Magnolia x soulangeana 'Picture') that was unmistakably the most beautiful magnolia I have ever seen.
The magnolia of the Missouri Botanical Garden alone would have been worth the trip to St. Louis. In fact, the utter amazement I felt when 'Picture' first came into my view is unrivaled in the decade that I've been photographing botanical subjects. Although I raised my lens to capture the beauty of this specimen, I could have left my camera at home, because the perfect 'Picture' was already standing in plain view.