Blog Archives



After an exceeding miserable and somewhat stormy winter and spring weather-wise,  the promise of the temperature reaching the near- and even possibly mid-90’s last Wednesday had me jumping at the chance to get out of the house and do a little trekking around town.

My site of choice was a special exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Garden —  better known to the locals as Shaw’s Garden.

Henry Shaw was an Englishman who at age 18 arrived in the then little river town of Saint Louis in 1818. He planned to sell the hardware that his father manufactured in England to the settlers who were moving west. And he became the richest man in the Saint Louis by the time he decided to retire and enjoy life — prior to reaching age 40.

He had always had an interest in botany, and on retiring he traveled to England to research his second passion. Returning to Saint Louis in the 1840’s he purchased several hundred acres of prairie land west of the city’s boundaries. His plan was to build a country home for himself, and inspired by the Chatsworth Gardens in England if would include a garden where he could continue his study of botany.

In 1859 he opened his gardens to the public —  founding the Missouri Botanical Garden which is now the oldest continuously operated botanical garden in the United States.

This year the Garden is hosting a TREEmendous year in celebration of the United Nations International Year of The Forest. And to kick things off they just opened the exhibit of EXTREME TREE HOUSES which I set out to visit.

The exhibit consists of nine different tree houses constructed of recycled and salvaged materials and located through the garden grounds.

1 – THE NOMAD NESTThis house is made of salvaged branches and saplings woven and joined together to create a strong dome structure around a Sycamore tree. Tree stump chairs fill the interior and planters filled with wild edibles are mounted outside.

2 — A “LIVING” ROOM IN A GARDEN  This tree house is constructed entirely of recycled Christmas trees. It is build around an Amur Cork.

The carpet of this “living” room is made for fir and pine needles. The smell of this tree house could almost make visions of sugar plums dance in your head!

3 — TREEHENGE Built around a Silver Linden this house is made from bamboo and re-used utility poles.

4 — INSIDE THE TREE HOUSEBuilt around a Red Oak tree, what little girl wouldn’t like to play house here?Yes, the house is sprouting from the giant “helicopter” seed pods of the maple tree. It also features solar power and a recycled rain water system. Notice even a robin dropped by to visit.

5 — THE AMAZE-ING RINGSThis house built as a maze around a Ginkgo Tree was inspited by the structure of tree rings.The two-way maze is lined with panels explaining the functions of the different parts of a tree.

6 —REFLECTIONS TREE HOUSEThis structure built around a Sycamore Tree mimics the canopy of the tree overhead as well as the root structure.

7 — HOUSE + TREE=PHIThis abstract house built under a Chinese Elm was basically Chinese to me.I guess you’re supposed to sit inside and contemplate nature and the universe. Write if it inspires you.

8 — A TREED PLACE OF PLAYBuilt around a Tulip Tree this is a tree house that would have ruled back when I was a kid. Is it a pirate’s ship?

Is it a fort?

It’s a place for pretending … and play!And for older kids … it’s a great place just to sit and look at the mighty tree overhead.

9 — SWEET GUM TREE HOUSEThis tree house was designed to create a structural pathway allowing the visitor to view areas of the garden from a new perspective.I won’t explain the negative perspective it left with me. It was constructed from re-purposed materials like shipping pallets.

And that was the exhibit! So, which tree house would have turned you on when you were a kid?

And since I took over 250 photos during my sunny day garden walk, expect a few more visits to other area’s of Mr. Shaw’s Garden.  Coming up soon!