Peter Raven and Dale Chihuly

Saturday was an active day for Anne and I.  We started the day off with a little cross training and a five mile walk.  The day started off pretty cool, so we enjoyed our walk through Clayton.  We then doubled down for the day with a 15 mile afternoon bike ride to the Gardens.  By the afternoon the mercury had risen making our returning ride a little too toasty.  Of course our garden destination was chosen to find photos to feed this blog.  The Missouri Botanical Gardens is a world class institution, so it is a reliable source of blog fodder.

In 2006 the Gardens collaborated with the Tacoma glass artist, Dale Chihuly.  Chihuly especially made and then installed his works throughout the grounds for that show.  It was highly successful with almost a million in attendance.  A few of the Chihuly works became part of the Garden’s permanent collection.  Some are featured in the photos with this post.  Today’s new header shows the first Chihuly work to greet a visitor.  It is in the atrium of the Ridgeway Center which acts as the Garden’s visitor’s center.  The glass bulbs float in the central reflecting pool before the Climatron.  Today their beauty competes with water lilies and dragonflies.  The highly photoshopped picture of Anne below uses another Chihuly work as sizzling accents.

On the way out of the Gardens we walked by Peter Raven as he was introducing himself to a couple from South America.  I showed restraint and did not take a picture.  Dr. Raven has led the Gardens for forty years now.  He is retiring. His successor has been named.  He leaves him quite the legacy.  When we first moved to Saint Louis he had already been ten years on the job.  In that first decade he completed the Japanese Gardens which in my humble opinion still remains as his pièce de résistance.  In the intervening years the Gardens have grown not only as a tourist attraction, but also as a research institute.  Raven presided over the opening of a new multi-story research facility.  We attended the open house with the Boyz of Noize in tow.  They delighted in slamming the multi-ton, rail mounted, plant specimen shelves together.  Through the course of his tenure he has taken the Garden’s membership from a low of thirty to over 40,000.  The Garden’s membership highpoint was the Dale Chihuly exhibit.  Dr. Raven, Saint Louis owes you a debt of gratitude that it can never repay.

It must have been the heat or maybe it was the humidity or maybe it was both of them together.  First Anne poses for her above PhotoShop photo, but then she launched into a stream of puns about these overhanging gourds:

  • They look like the hanging gourds of Damocles.
  • How do you cut the gourdian knot?
  • You can’t keep a gourd women down, even is you try to squash her.

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