Mizzou Botanic Garden spans entire campus thanks to alumni support

The University of Missouri is home to a botanical garden stretching throughout a campus of more than 30,000 students.

The botanical garden has 11 thematic gardens and seven special gardens around campus, which include areas such as the Tiger Plaza on the south end of the Mel Carnahan Quad, and the area by Beetle Bailey’s statue on the north side of the Reynolds Alumni Center. The garden is open to the public year-round and self-guided tour maps are available in the Reynolds Alumni Center. Guided tours are available to groups of six or more periodically throughout the year. The gardens are planted with up to 1,000 new trees and shrubs a year, along with several thousand flowers.

“The annual budget for educational and general landscape is $1.3 million,” said Pete Millier, director of Campus Facilities, Landscape Services and Mizzou Botanic Garden..

Millier noted, however, that the botanic garden features of the campus landscape are all privately funded by alumni support.

The garden’s origin was an accident. In 1980, Chancellor Barbra Uehling had a vision to unify and beautify the campus. Uehling hired Jack Robinson, with Sasaki Associates out of Boston, to design the master plan. The campus then invested money towards the landscaping of campus to bring it to life for the campus community. Several years later, Chancellor Richard Wallace took the initiative to get the campus certified as a botanical garden. This required several steps including keeping detailed plant records called accession records. Creating educational programming was also important before the final step of creating identification labels for all the varieties of plants. Mizzou Botanic Garden became official on Aug. 21, 1999.

Today, the garden is home to the original Thomas Jefferson grave marker. You can find the marker facing the Francis Quadrangle by Jesse Hall, making it the third location for the marker on campus. It was originally on the east end of Academic Hall before it burned down in 1892, then on the north side of Jesse Hall, and finally in 1976 it was moved to where it stands today.

 “The majority of the plants by the grave marker were mentioned in Thomas Jefferson’s journal,” Millier said. “Jefferson wrote more about gardening than any other topic.”

Today, the original epitaph for the grave marker is located inside Jesse Hall.

Millier also said the new master plan for the campus landscape is coming out soon. It has been in the works for two and half years. This new plan includes many new opportunities for outdoor classes, outdoor conversation, gathering places, and allows donors to engage with campus.

For more information about the Botanic Garden, please contact campus facilities at 573-882-4240 or at gardens@missouri.edu. For people interested in contributing to the garden, contact Beverly Smith at 573-882-2137 or at smithbev@missouri.edu