Hawk in front of the observatory

The Doris Waters Harris Lichtenstein Victorian District, designated in summer 2008, features traditional Victorian plantings alongside the Garden's oldest and most historically relevant structures. This area takes you back in time as you learn more about the roots of the Garden with interactive exhibits, engaging programs, and world class gardening displays. The Victorian District area stretches from the enclosed Victory (of Science over Ignorance) sculpture to the eastern wall, back to founder Henry Shaw’s original city townhouse, and meets the eastern edge of the English Woodland Garden.

In spring 2007, the Missouri Botanical Garden received a substantial gift to establish the district from Mrs. Lichtenstein. Construction began in summer 2007. Dr. Brent Elliott, a renowned authority on Victorian gardens, consulted on the project, designed by MTR Landscape Architects. Elliott is the librarian and archivist at the Royal Horticultural Society Lindley Library in London. Many areas encompassed by the Victorian District were designed to compliment or even replicate Shaw's Victorian style and have benefited from the generosity of donors throughout the years.

Unique Features of the Victorian Garden Include:

  • The Kresko Family Victorian Garden (1997), directly east of Tower Grove House, recreates an early garden design commissioned by Henry Shaw in front of his original conservatories, on the present site of the Climatron® reflecting pools. Then, as now, the centerpiece was the white marble statue of Juno by Carl Nicoli, which was acquired by Shaw in 1885. The style of landscaping was introduced in the early 1800s when new varieties of flowers were being developed and new species were coming into England from different parts of the world. Elaborate and colorful combinations of flowers, foliage, and succulents were combined in "plant tapestries," in which the colorful combinations were laid out in intricate designs referred to as"carpet bedding." Visitors will see annual bedding plants of many types, colors, and sizes throughout the years as the displays change with the seasons. These colorful planting schemes are typically drawn and installed two to three times a year, using 6500 plants in the spring and over 3000 in the summer. Today, more varieties of flowers and foliage are available than were possible in Victorian times. Improved selections and innumerable colors allow visitors to enjoy an even more beautiful Victorian garden than Queen Victoria herself possibly could have!
  • Kaeser Memorial Maze (1986) recreates a labyrinth constructed by Shaw in the 1800s with sunken hedges of yew and a gazebo at its center. A fun activity for the whole family, exploring the maze helps build problem solving skills and offers a fun escape in a historic garden.
  • The Pincushion Garden, one of the largest of its kind in the world, resurrects a "lost art" of garden design once common in traditional Victorian displays. During the early 1900s, the Garden featured 2 circular beds on either side of the main entrance at Spink Pavillion. The display changed on an annual basis, featuring a mix of the Garden's cacti and succulent collections. Today's designs pay homage to those original beds along the walkway to the Piper Observatory near the original Garden wall, constructed in 1858. Today, 20 circular beds can host up to 25,000 succulent plants per year, each of which is arranged into large geometric designs. Innovative drainage and irrigation techniques have been incorporated into the design of the new garden, and horticulturists work with plant cuttings to replant each year rather than purchase new succulents. A team of horticulturists and volunteers work for nearly two weeks each year to install this meticulous and intricate design work.
  • Piper Observatory (1996) is a replica of a freestanding, Russian-inspired observation tower built by Henry Shaw in the 19th century in Tower Grove Park. This tower offers visitors the opportunity to see the Garden from a different perspective. Climb to the second story for this must-visit photo opportunity.
  • St. Louis Herb Society Herb Garden (2003), enclosed in an ornamental iron fence behind Tower Grove House, includes beds of culinary and medicinal herbs in imitation of Shaw’s original kitchen garden. The current garden is divided into culinary, medicinal, utility, and fragrance according to how the herbs are used. Learn more about the Herb Garden
  • Tower Grove House (1849) is the historic country estate of Henry Shaw, the founder of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Learn more about his legacy and the history of the Garden by visiting Tower Grove House Wednesday-Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Exhibits give you a glimpse into the life of the people who lived in the house while it was a residence, and daily programs offer educational moments for families to learn more about the history of gardening, food, and social customs. During the holiday season, visit Tower Grove House to see the Victorian Christmas exhibit, open mid-November through January 1 annually.
  • Peter and Stephen Sachs Museum (1859) is Henry Shaw/s historic museum and library. It was used by botanists for research throughout the Victorian period. The interior is based on Museum No. 2 of Economic Botany at Kew Gardens in England, and the Museum boasts a botanical ceiling mural by artist Leon Pomarede that you have to see to believe. Exhibits share meaningful connections to plants and their purposes, featuring their uses in traditional and contemporary cultures. The building was renovated and reopened in 2018 with support from Stephen and Peter Sachs. Now, visitors can explore the Museum 7 days a week, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Plan a visit to the Sachs Museum
  • Henry Shaw's Townhouse (1849) is the original city home of founder Henry Shaw. Originally located at 7th and Locust in downtown St. Louis, the northern-facing part of the building was moved to Garden grounds in 1890 per Henry Shaw's will. Disassembled and moved brick by brick in a horse drawn wagon, this 17 room townhome boasts elevated ceilings, original fireplaces, and traditional Victorian architecture. An addition was added in 1908 to provide more room for office use. In the past, it has been used as a library and a space for storing herbarium specimens, and today it offers office space to the administrators of the Garden. It is closed to the public.
  • Herring House (formerly the Cleveland Avenue Gatehouse) is an 1895 stone cottage located adjacent to the Museum Building against the western historic stone wall. This was the home of the gatekeeper who oversaw Henry Shaw's mausoleum and the gate that faces what is today Tower Grove Avenue. Designed by architect George I. Barnett, this home features a traditional English stone cottage design with an American shingle roof, which was popular at the turn of the 20th century. In the back, Lauren's Secret Garden features plantings inspired by Victorian gardener Gertrude Jekyll. Renovated in 2016 with support from Laura and Mike Herring, this home now hosts dignitaries and guests of the president. It is closed to the public. Learn more about the Herring House
  • The stumpery, located by the Townhouse at the southwest corner of the Garden, honors the Victorian style of taking dead trees' roots and creating a natural home for shaded plants. Stumperies were popular during Henry Shaw's lifetime, especially in England, where deciduous forests support wet weather plants that thrive in the shade (such as ferns, bryophytes, and mosses. Today, Price Charles and Camila of Wales feature a stumpery at their castle, an homage to this traditional English gardening style. 
  • The Mausoleum is the final resting place of Garden founder Henry Shaw. Constructed with red granite and a stone foundation, this beautiful building was designed by George I. Barnett two years before Henry Shaw died. A white marble sculpture of Henry Shaw lying in state is enclosed within, created by German artist Frederick von Miller. It was inspired by a photo that Henry Shaw chose at the end of his life to represent him for generations to come.