If you’ll be in St Louis this summer…
In its Spring, 2015 Bulletin, the Missouri Botanical Garden reported that China has 31,000 plant species and 10% of the world’s plant diversity. By contrast, the U.S. and Canada together have about 20,000 native plants. Moreover, China is the only country in the world with tropical, subtropical, temperate and boreal plant and forest regions. That’s why the Missouri Botanical Garden on Shaw Blvd. in St. Louis has made Chinese flora a top priority for almost 50 years and why it’s about to sponsor another Lantern Festival.
Missouri Botanical Garden’s 1st Lantern Festival in summer, 2012 was a spectacular success, and I reported in an October 10, 2014 blog that “Lantern Festival: Magic Reimagined” was on its way. Tickets are already being sold because this more than 150-year-old garden that was the playground of my youth routinely attracts 1,000,000+ visitors each year and learned from #1 that night displays were the bigger lure. They attracted unpleasantly large crowds. As a result, MBG has been selling date-specific tickets for several months.
The 2015 show will feature “installations with environmental, historic, and plant-based themes,” according to its main brochure. Like far more colorful Midwest lightning bugs, the 2015 displays will illuminate evenings from May 23 to August 23. According to the same brochure, China is becoming more environmentally aware and now has 160 botanical gardens, most of which are not yet 20-years-0ld. That’s really good news.
The Missouri Botanical Garden is truly international. It has a presence in close to 40 countries, researchers in 35 of them, 6.5 million plant specimens in its current collection, and a mission to conserve at least some of the world’s rarest and most endangered species.
On a recent visit, MBG was a festival of spring blooms as Ruth, Tom, and I watched crews begin to assemble the 22 displays. They will be made of silk, porcelain, recycled water bottles, etc. and have themes tied to Chinese plants and legends. Expect a dragon horse, an impressive pagoda, a giant dandelion, and satisfying dazzlement.
Lantern Festival 2 is clearly both a celebration of past success and a tribute to the Missouri Botanical Garden’s ongoing work with China.