This article is presented in partnership with Visit Columbia.

The month of May finds many of us stepping outside our homes and yards to go beyond the grocery store for the first time in weeks. While we are now more aware of being socially distant, getting outdoors and enjoying the labors of Columbia gardeners is still the wonderful pick-me-up it has always been. Here are a few places to enjoy.

Shelter Gardens, located at Shelter Insurance headquarters on West Broadway, is a five-acre garden oasis. Often the backdrop for weddings and prom photos, it features more than 300 varieties of trees and shrubs and 15,000 annuals and perennials. Special garden aspects include a 19th-century replica one-room schoolhouse, a waterfall and stream, a memorial to Vietnam veterans and the Garden for the Blind, a sensory experience for the visually impaired.

Located next to the MKT trail, 800 W. Stadium Blvd., the landscaped gardens with walkways and benches at Battle Garden provide a quiet setting. Along with a trailhead for the MKT, the garden also prominently features the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The writings of Dr. King are displayed as part of a sculptured amphitheater with eight triangular upright columns. The art sculpture was created by Barbara Grygutis.

A beautiful respite sits just a short trip northeast of Columbia: one of the oldest public gardens in Boone County. The gardens at the Albert Bishop Chance House and Gardens in Centralia are on the National Historic Registry. Built in 1936, Chance Gardens has Oriental influences both in structure and plant base, and the 1995 addition of the Rose Garden features more than 400 rose varieties and is in full bloom from May through November. 

Disguised as the University of Missouri campus, the Mizzou Botanic Garden encompasses the 752-acre setting. The living museum displays thousands of plants amidst famous landmarks and in thematic gardens. From Siberian irises to Missouri’s native coneflowers, six themed gardens feature an array of flowers on the Mel Carnahan Quadrangle. While the Discovery Garden at the Life Sciences Center features plants used for medicines. To get a grand tour, three distinct tree trails lead you on an expedition across the campus in search of beautiful specimens. In the process you will discover more gardens and botanical points of interest along the way.  

Lastly—and perhaps a little different take on enjoying a garden—the Columbia Farmers Market celebrates 40 years of bringing locally made, grown and raised food (and flowers) to the city in 2020. The farmers market has 80 member vendors that sell fruit, vegetables, eggs, baked goods, local meats, canned goods, prepared foods, drinks, plants and more. Most Saturday markets see about 65 vendors in the summer. At this producer-only market, vendors must grow, raise or make what they sell from within a 50-mile radius of Columbia. Because of this, visitors to the market can be assured what they purchase is actually made or grown by that vendor.

Whether you are looking for a garden to enjoy or a bit of one to take home with you, you can find both in Columbia.

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