ST. LOUIS — The days are lengthening and the temperatures are warming as St. Louis enters into spring.
There's plenty of fun to be found for those looking to commemorate the season. Whether you prefer strolling curated gardens, getting lost in nature, or would just rather stay indoors, here are the best ways to celebrate spring.
Missouri Botanical Garden
Along with a host of special spring events, MoBOT is also offering extended hours. The garden, which usually closes at 5 p.m., will be open every Wednesday in April until 7:30 p.m., with final entry at 7 p.m.
"Guests will be able to enjoy April favorites like blooming cherry blossoms, tulips, azaleas, dogwoods, redbuds, trillium, and peonies," said Public Information Coordinator Kristina DeYong. "This gives visitors a chance to take advantage of the botanical background and golden hour for beautiful spring photos."
On March 26, several MoBOT favorites will reopen for the season, including Cafe Flora, the Doris I. Schnuck Children's Garden and Tower Grove House.
MoBOT has also shared a host of events taking place throughout spring.
The Sake and Sakura event is on April 1 from 5:30-8 p.m. A specialist will guide guests as they sample sake and take in the beauty of blooming cherry trees. Guests will receive a keepsake tasting cup and will have the opportunity to explore the Japanese Garden's Teahouse Island.
The island, which is typically closed to the public, features the garden's soan, a farm hut-style teahouse gifted from Missouri's sister state of Nagano prefecture in Japan.
Tickets are available on MoBOT's website. Prices are $20 for garden members and $25 for nonmembers. Seven sake samples come with admission and additional sake and Japanese cuisine are available for purchase.
On April 29-30, visitors can shop more than 6,000 herb plants consisting of 125 varieties. The St. Louis Herb Society will be present to share plant care tips. The event is included in the price of Garden admission and free for garden members.
Grapes in the Garden is May 6. Guests can enjoy more than 250 international and domestic wines, food samples and live music, with Schnucks wine specialists on hand as guides. Attendees must be 21 or older.
Chinese Culture Days on May 21 and 22 features a Grand Parade with a 70-foot dancing dragon, authentic cuisine, tai chi, martial arts and acrobatic performances. Special tours are also available in MoBOT's Chinese Garden.
There are a host of spring blooms in Forest Park, including daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, blooming apple trees, magnolias and more.
The Jewel Box is known for its yearly tulip display in the spring. Inside are tropical trees, foliage plants, flowers and a water feature and fountain that runs year-round. Admission is $1 per person but is free from 9 a.m.-noon on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Forest Park Forever made a spring walking guide last year that you can view on its website. There's also an interactive map that can guide your journey around the 1,300 acre park.
Art In Bloom
If you'd prefer to skip the pollen, the Saint Louis Art Museum has flower-themed events you can enjoy from indoors.
The month-long annual Art in Bloom celebration is underway virtually through March 31. The festival includes a presentation on floral textiles in 18th-century European fashion, a guided experience featuring floral work in the museum's collection, nature-inspired programs for kids and families, and a floral arrangement competition among three local florists.
For those looking to escape the gardens for a more ungroomed experience with nature, the Missouri Department of Conservation has plenty of recommendations for where you can go wildflower spotting.
"In March, the early spring ephemeral flowers will be emerging," said MDC's Dan Zarlenga. "These smallish flowers typically appear in forested areas growing low on the forest floor, and can start blooming before spring officially begins, by our calendars at least. As we move into May and June, a completely new suite of flowers will emerge, especially in the more open areas like prairies and glades."
For early spring (March through April), he recommended the following:
- Engelmann Woods Natural Area in Franklin County
- August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles County, especially Fallen Oak Trail
- Myron and Sonya Glassberg Family Conservation Area in Jefferson County (Explore the wooded portions for early spring ephemeral wildflowers)
For later spring (May through June):
- Myron and Sonya Glassberg Family Conservation Area in Jefferson County (Look in the power line right of ways and more open areas for later spring wildflowers)
- Valley View Glades Natural Area in Jefferson County
- Victoria Glades Conservation Area in Jefferson County
"Of course there are many other conservation areas, and county and state parks, that are also great places for spring flower hunting," Zarlenga said. "From the earliest diminutive bloodroots on the forest flower, to the later showy coneflowers of open glades, there’s plenty to see in the progression of spring wildflowers."
MDC has an online field guide that you can use to identify what you find.
While you're out looking for wildflowers, keep an eye out for finds of the fungal variety.
Morel season typically starts up in late March and runs through April into early May. The mushrooms are common in both Missouri and Illinois but notoriously tricky to find.
Morels can range anywhere from 2-12 inches and sprout up in moist woodlands and river bottoms, according to MDC. They are often found near ash trees, dying elms and apple trees but can be found elsewhere, such as under both hardwoods and conifers.
MDC noted that there are at least three species of morels in Missouri. Don't confuse true morels with false morels, which could sicken or kill you. Don't eat any wild mushroom unless you've identified it as a safe edible and have cooked it thoroughly.
Foragers can check out MDC's morel guide on how to find and properly identify the mushrooms.