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Tower Grove Park has, from its inception, been known as a natural refuge for birds of many different species especially during the spring and fall migrating seasons. The Park's life list is now well over 200, and serious birders from all over the metro area, and beyond, visit the Park regularly during those seasons.

The trees of Tower Grove Park constitute one of its greatest assets, and one of its greatest benefits to the people of St. Louis.  We invite you to enjoy and learn about this remarkable urban forest.
Tower Grove Park represents the preservation of the Victorian urban park. This could not be accomplished with out the use of annual floral displays. These flowers bring form and texture to the seasons. Their colors and fragrance supply the senses with relaxation and imagination. All of which aid in the refreshment of one’s spirit.

 

Trees of Tower Grove Park

The trees of Tower Grove Park constitute one of its greatest assets, and one of its greatest benefits to the people of St. Louis.  We invite you to enjoy and learn about this remarkable urban forest.

Before you step into the trees at Tower Grove Park, you may want to take a step backward . . .  to 1868.  The United States and Missouri had just ended a brutal and divisive Civil War, and the nation was poised for an era of change in industry, trade, and culture.  The world as St. Louisans had known it was about to change forever, with a technological revolution in communications, transportation and manufacturing.

At a time when so many seemed eager to push into the hectic new age, Henry Shaw contemplated more timeless values.  Shaw chose to donate and help develop a unique asset for St. Louis, a large and well thought-out park, based on the best features of the emerging art of urban park landscape design.

Shaw knew and applied the latest concepts of park design, centered on the perennial needs of people, especially those who live in large cities, to enjoy the soothing beauty of plants, open skies, grass … and trees.

Here, amid architectural, artistic and recreational “embellishments” that reflected the Victorian gift for craftsmanship and ornamentation, ordinary citizens – rich and poor, men, women and children – could enjoy a carefully selected and tended collection of trees.

Shaw had a special love of trees.  They had taught him to savor the beauty of living things, and he was fascinated by the diversity of tree types that would live on this rich soil at the upper end of the Lower Mississippi Valley.

Shaw personally oversaw the planting of several thousand trees, transforming the almost treeless prairie into a park that is remarkable for its foliage.  In addition to tree species native to Missouri, Shaw included species from Europe, China and Japan.

Of the more than 200 varieties originally planted, Shaw commented, “The finest and best trees adapted to the soil and climate of Missouri have been planted.”

As a result, today Tower Grove Park has a greater variety of trees and shrubs than any other urban park in the country.

A few of the trees that Shaw planted are still growing in the park, but more importantly, the urban forest he created is still here, and in some ways is more important than ever.

Today’s Park forest includes over 7,500 trees, of over 325 varieties.  It includes fine specimens of most of the species native to Missouri including our state tree, dogwood, and our state flower, hawthorn.

Spring brings a wash of flowering color from the magnolias, cornelian cherry and witch hazel.  Summer is shaded with the green leaves of sycamore, the feathery bald cypress, and the lustrous oaks.  Fall is especially colorful with the bright tints of red gum, sweet gum, and sugar maple.  And winter brings the beauty of bare branches etched against the blue sky, the ropey russet trunks of Osage orange, and the evergreen color of holly and Virginia red cedar.

When Shaw planted the Tower Grove Park trees, most Americans lived much closer to the land than they do now.  Trees were everywhere, and often were taken for granted.  Today, with the urbanization of so many hundreds of square miles of our nation, trees – especially trees in the heart of the city – have become ever more precious and important, not only as an amenity of beauty and refreshment, but also as a fundamental environmental benefit for cooling hot city streets, as vital habitat for scarce urban wildlife, and as living classrooms, where we can learn much about life itself.

There is no place in urban American better than Tower Grove Park to enjoy these blessings from the trees.

Regional bird watchers, including the Audubon Society, recommend Tower Grove Park as one of the top sites for observing a rich variety of avian life.  The Park’s mixture of mature trees and shrubs make it a vital habitat in the urban core.

 

Your role in the Park Forest

This great legacy, however, is at risk.  Over the past several decades, there has been a slow decline as a result of natural aging of the trees, many of which are over 100 years old.  The Tower Grove Park forest has been subject to smoke, disease, and just plain old age.  If action is not taken, our generation could very well witness the diminishment of a great legacy, and a great environmental amenity.

But this need not be the case.  Over the past ten years, and with the assistance of federal and state grants, as well as private and corporate donations, the staff at Tower Grove Park has undertaken a careful analysis of the historic forest at the Park.  The varieties of trees and shrubs that remain -- their locations, the condition of the individual specimens, and the need for replacements have been documented.  The staff has also studied the original Park design, and developed a plan for the restoration of the original Victorian forest which had been planted by Henry Shaw and his gardeners.

 

You can be part of the dream

With this plan in place, we are now able to bring about a great renewal, a revitalization of the original forest at Tower Grove Park.  But this will take more money than the Park receives through regular appropriations.  Thus, the Park has established a reforestation program based on contributions and grants.  This program enables individuals and organizations to participate in the reforestation program, and thus the restoration of a great St. Louis asset.

You or your organization can contribute funds for the planting of one or more trees; or you can contribute to a fund for the better care of our existing trees.

There is something very satisfying about funding a tree for a public park.  Trees live for many years, and provide benefits appreciated by young, old, rich and poor.  Supporting the tree care fund helps insure a longer and healthier life for the thousands of trees and shrubs that now live in the Park.

 

Please help the trees!

With your donation, you are making a commitment to the future -- and to the quality of life in St. Louis.  Donations start at $500 per tree and are tax deductible.  You will be invited to participate in the planting of your tree, your name and your chosen dedication will be recorded on the permanent donor recognition plaque in the Park office; and you will be sent a map with the location of your donated tree.  You can also designate your tree in memory of someone or in honor of a person or event.

There are two donation options to choose from:

$500: Includes a tree and recognition on donor plaque in the Park Office. 5 year replacement guarantee.

$2,500: Includes a tree, recognition on donor plaque in the Park Office, and permanent bronze plaque at the tree site. Replacement of tree as needed.

Donations for general care of the Park's existing trees are always needed and greatly appreciated.

For further information, or to have an informational brochure mailed to you, please call the Park Office at 771-2679.

A garden is a friend you can visit anytime, and Tower Grove Park is such a friend. After all the root word to our particular landscape style, gardenesque is garden.

In the garden we find flowers and flowers can define borders, lighten dark corners, soften landscapes, and refresh the spirit and senses of visitors.

 

Flowers of Tower Grove Park

Tower Grove Park represents the preservation of the Victorian urban park. This could not be accomplished without the use of annual floral displays. These flowers bring form and texture to the seasons. Their colors and fragrance supply the senses with relaxation and imagination. All of which aid in the refreshment of ones spirit.

We should thank Mr. Gurney for influencing his good friend, Mr. Shaw, in providing beautiful floral displays for passers-by and Park visitors. It was James Gurney, Sr. who first suggested the entryways to the Park display floral arrangements. Both for the Park visitor and the bustling community in the city streets.

 

Flowers at the entry gates of the Park harkens the would be visitor to venture onward and see what lies beyond. These displays can provide visual stimuli at 30 mphs for the community outside the casual confines of the Park.

Flowers can peek interest for many months in the Park. Late winter and spring provide an every increasing bulb display. While in the summer months, the multitude of annual displays are sure to please.

Tower Grove Park propagates and cultivates almost the entire season’s collection in the greenhouse. Some 20000 plants are used to fill our beds and urns. The flowers of Tower Grove Park are a mixture of old favorites and the exotic. Bright colors and foliar textures are represented in the display beds.

 

Picture perfect flowers. Many wedding parties and family photos are taken in Tower Grove Park with the flowers as background.

 

 

 



Wildlife of Tower Grove Park

We are very lucky to have an abundance of wildlife populating our beautiful park; and it is not just a seasonal occurrence. We have many fascinating animals on a year-round basis!


Birding in Tower Grove Park

Henry Shaw spent considerable time observing birds, and had a significant interest in them.  Shaw's observations of the birds of the Park, attests to the importance of this location for birders, even over 100 years ago.

Tower Grove Park has from its inception been a natural refuge for birds of many different species especially during the spring and fall migrating seasons.  The Park’s life list is now well over 200, and serious birders from all over the metro area, and beyond, visit the Park regularly during those seasons.  The Park is noted in particular for concentrations of migrating warblers and thrushes.

The Park is never without birds.  These include year-round resident woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, Carolina wrens, mockingbirds, cardinals, robins, and several species of owls.  Winter residents include slate-colored juncos, yellow bellied sapsuckers, and white throated sparrows.  Summer residents include hummingbirds, gold finches, and warblers.  With the coming of spring the tempo quickens, and the trees are alive with song.  For dedicated birders or casual strollers, each day can be exciting as the migrants pass through, pausing for a few days to feed in the treetops or the undergrowth.

For current conditions and sighting opportunities, call the following numbers:

Webster Grove Nature Study Society 314-935-8432
St. Louis Audubon Society 314-822-6595

 

Birding Hot Spots in Tower Grove Park

Several hotspots in the Park include the Robert and Martha Gaddy Wild Bird Garden in the northwest corner, with the Kyrle Boldt memorial fountain; the stable area and adjacent wet weather stream; the Lily Ponds and adjacent Fountain Pond; and the Woodland Pool in memory of Jack Van Benthuysen on the north side of Main Drive adjacent to the East Creek and the Cypress Circle in the center of Main Drive.



Map of Birding Hot Spots in Tower Grove Park

• Robert and Martha Gaddy Wild Bird Garden near the corner of Kingshighway and Magnolia.  This special area was developed with the support of the Webster Groves Nature Study Society and the Missouri Department of Conservation.  A rich variety of native plants here attracts olive-sided flycatchers, numerous vireos, and many of the warblers.

• Stable area and adjacent wet weather stream.  Especially in wet weather, this site is good for winter wrens, various thrushes, and rose-breasted grosbeaks.

• Lily ponds and Fountain pond.  The ponds often harbor migrating mallards and wood ducks in spring and fall.  In summer, you can frequently find green-backed herons and kingfishers here.  On summer evenings the skies are alive with chimney swifts and nighthawks.

• The East Creek, Woodland Pool, and the Cypress Circle.  These locations between the Humboldt Circle and Cypress Circle are wet areas that can produce such urban rarities as a Louisiana waterthrush.  For several years a pair of Cooper’s hawks has nested in the cypress trees of Cypress Circle.

 

click here for a TGP Bird Checklist

Click here for an Excerpt from 1883 MacAdam’s Report: The Birds of Tower Grove

 

Other Critters

Other wildlife in Tower Grove Park is more abundant and diverse than most people would probably assume.  Besides the familiar gray squirrels, cottontail rabbits, and moles, there are raccoons, opossums, and an occasional gray or red fox.  Several varieties of bats roost in the Park and help to keep insect populations under control.

Green, southern leopard, and bull frogs live around the ponds, and in spring are joined by singing choruses of American toads.  Five-lined skinks chase small beetles around the ruins, and box turtles patrol sheltered areas in search of earthworms or ripe mulberries.

Minnows and goldfish dart about in the ponds, at least for a few weeks before the ponds are drained in the fall.

Insect life in the Park has not been studied in detail, but includes beautiful butterflies, moths, and dragonflies.
We encourage visitors to enjoy the Park wildlife, and to report any sightings that seem unusual to the Park Office.  We hope to learn more about the fascinating creatures with whom we all share the Park.