Lafayette Park

Out and about in St. Louis city yesterday morning, my wife said "I know something you'd like! How about a walk in Lafayette Park?" I'd never been before, and since it was a very nice but windy day I agreed.


As we pulled up to one of the oldest city parks west of the Mississippi (set aside from the St. Louis Common in 1836 and dedicated in 1851), I didn't expect much. I could see lots of mature trees and lawn, a playground, some gazebos, but nothing to get too excited about. Just a nice city park.


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Hidden behind some trees near the southeast corner of the park is the reason to visit though, a little "ravine" (I can't think of a better word) that contains a fantastic garden!


I was first attracted to the hill, which appears to be planted for exposure to full or at least partial sun:


There are a lot of hostas in there though, so it can't get too much sunlight (it was bright overcast while we were there)...


Opposite that hill is the pond...


...and bridge, which really makes the garden special I think:


Back to the hill though, which was densely planted -- some of the plants I did not recognize...


...does anybody know what this is?



Quite a few ferns everywhere, which really seem appropriate during our cool and wet spring this year...


...but I wonder what they'll look like during summer?


Moving up the path that goes up the hill (along the south side of the gazebo)...


...somebody in that group of people is from Phoenix, in town for a weekend of training of some sort. (Some people are loud sharers.)


Clearly those who garden in the city do not need to worry about deer.


Out of the "ravine" you can see that the park is nice, but doesn't give a clue as to what this sunken garden contains:


Incidentally, that little house is on an island in the pond, and swans were nesting there. Nice!

That flowering tree was wonderful and worth a closer look...


...but I don't know what it's called (and a Google search failed for the second time this morning).


Does anybody know this tree?

Standing next to the gazebo looking to the bridge, you can't even see most of the plants that we first saw:



A bit away from this structure is a statue of George Washington:


If you're thinking that those shrubs need a pruning (so you can read the entire inscription), they're working on it. Before:


After:


The gazebo seen from the rest of the park:


Looks nice, but generically parkish.

Moving down the north path now...


...we went under the bridge...


...and into the deep shade.


I wonder what it's like in here during the hottest part of summer? Nice I bet, but much more humid than today.

There are some pockets of full sun...


...but this side is mostly a moist, mossy, shady place.




Note: you can see just a peek between the branches of the green garden hose on the bridge that is part of their makeshift irrigation system. A couple of people were working on it (one gardener and one recruit), plugging leaks. She said they got an estimate of $10K to install a "real" irrigation system, so they're stuck with this DIY version for now.

Up on the bridge now, what great perspectives you get!



I don't suppose it would be practical to build a bridge in my garden...


...but it sure would make all of my photos more impressive!




Lafayette Park is located in the historic Lafayette Square neighborhood of St. Louis...


...where the French influence hinted at by the name is clearly visible in the surrounding houses.


After seeing this garden I'm a bit more interested in the signs posted around the neighborhood advertising the Lafayette Square home and garden tour in a few weeks.


Very enjoyable public garden that is small enough to thoroughly explore in less than an hour.


Now that I know that this place exists, I'm eager to come back during the summer and fall to see how things have changed! (By the way, this last photo might be my favorite, even though you can't see the bridge...)


I think it's confusing though that all of the trash cans in Lafayette Park say "Lafayette Square"...

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Teri  – (May 18, 2015 at 9:55 AM)  

Could the flowering tree/shrub be a white lilac? I couldn't get a good look at the leaves but they seem to look like it.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (May 18, 2015 at 1:04 PM)  

It looks like a really nice park with a lot to see. How come you'd never been there before?

Alan  – (May 18, 2015 at 4:16 PM)  

Teri: I don't think so -- how large do lilacs get? This was definitely a tree.

Gerhard: It's not an area of the city that I frequent often, and I didn't know that this garden existed there! It really was nice though.

susie @ persimmon moon cottage  – (May 18, 2015 at 8:31 PM)  

What a beautiful garden! A lot of interesting features and some amazing ferns and other plants. The bridge adds a lot of character, too. Thanks for showing this garden. I've lived in the St. Louis area my entire life and didn't know about it. It is too bad that they can't get some type of funding for better irrigation than a bright green garden hose.

Hoover Boo  – (May 18, 2015 at 8:42 PM)  

Beautiful garden--smart wife!

Emily Khan  – (May 18, 2015 at 10:45 PM)  

Nice park! I don't know the tree, but I think that the other plant is this--Saxifrage stolonifera http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c251

Anonymous –   – (May 19, 2015 at 12:19 AM)  

Saxifrage

Alan  – (May 19, 2015 at 7:01 AM)  

Susie: you should visit -- it's really nice!

Gail: she thinks so too. ;)

Emily and anon: thanks for the ID! Says it's not reliably hardy in St. Louis area, but they have so much of it growing here!

Ted  – (May 26, 2015 at 4:32 PM)  

I believe that is a Japanese tree lilac, Syringa Reticulata. They seem to be fairly common in the older parts of the region.

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