Mild Weather, Wildflowers

Enjoy the changing seasons at Shaw Nature Reserve.

By Kristina DeYong

Photography by Bailie Kleekamp, Matilda Adams and Kathy Melton 


As summer begins its slow transition into fall, it is a lovely time to visit the landscapes of Shaw Nature Reserve. Located in Gray Summit, Missouri, Shaw Nature Reserve is a satellite location of the Missouri Botanical Garden that invites visitors to enjoy a wide array of Missouri habitats, from woodlands and wetlands to prairies and glades.

The prairies and glades are particularly beautiful this time of year. As the weather grows milder, the bright colors of summer are fading to softer, subtler shades of sage-green, bronze and gold. The tallgrass prairie’s native grasses have reached heights up to ten feet at this point in the season. Native wildflowers like goldenrods, asters, blazing star and sunflowers shine brilliantly among them. Sumac, one of the first plants to take on its fall color, blushes a deep maroon-red. On a blustery day, you can visit the Nature Reserve’s new Abigail McMillan Prairie Overlook and watch as great swaths of grass billow like ocean waves in the wind.

Those who want to take a slice of the beauty home with them can visit Shaw Nature Reserve’s Fall Wildflower Market on Friday, September 9. From 3 to 7 p.m., visitors can shop from a wide selection of Missouri native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, vines, sedges and trees suitable for all soil, moisture and light requirements. All plants available are grown by local nurseries in the St. Louis metro area. The Wildflower Market is included in general admission.

Admission to Shaw Nature Reserve is free for Missouri Botanical Garden members and $5 for the general public. For more information about Shaw Nature Reserve or the Fall Wildflower Market, visit