Columbia, MO

A small haven of serenity at the Shelter Gardens in Columbia, Missouri

Anita Durairaj

Photo by Justyn Koh on Unsplash

There are many times when we may look back at the past and wish we had done certain things that would have improved our lives for the better.

In my case, my regret was not visiting the Shelter Gardens more often. I really had no excuse. I actually lived right next door to the Shelter Gardens and yet I never thought about visiting it even though I had been told numerous times that the Shelter Gardens was a must-see. It wasn't until a year after living in Columbia that I decided to take the plunge. So one fine spring day, I took the 3-minute walk from my apartment to the Shelter Gardens.

My only thoughts after the visit were that I had squandered my opportunities for peace and serenity by not spending more time at the Shelter Gardens. I was also surprised by how peaceful it was and how it was relatively quiet and uncrowded. Bear in mind, my visits took place before COVID-19.


The Shelter Gardens is a botanical garden located on 1817 W Broadway. The Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau lists the Shelter Gardens as one of the prime places to visit in Columbia. It is ranked in the top 5 things to do in Columbia on Tripadvisor.

5-acre botanic garden with a veterans' memorial, seating and a sensory plot for the visually impaired.

The garden is owned by the Shelter Insurance Company which has its headquarters in Columbia. The company is a mutual insurance company that provides car, property, business, and life insurance.

The 5-acre Shelter garden includes a paved pathway, decorative water features, and waterfalls as well as flora, flowers, vegetation, and many tree varieties. There are labels for the plants found throughout the garden. The gardens are very diverse with many varieties of evergreens, roses, and thousands of annuals and perennials.

There is also an old one-room schoolhouse in the area (make sure you sign the guest book) and a waterfall of koi fish. The garden is one of the most peaceful places in Columbia.

The gardens are also being used as venues for special events. You can take beautiful photographs on your special day in the park gardens. As a family-friendly location, it is perfect to walk around with your kids.

What most visitors really appreciate about the place is how well maintained the grounds look.

Botanic Gardens and Mental Health

As I mentioned previously, the gardens are a haven of serenity. According to an article by Sophia Shaw in the Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture,

time spent in a garden, whether as a casual visitor or as a participant in specialized horticulture therapy and education programs, can improve mental health and physical well-being and that this is to the benefit of individuals and society as a whole.- website of Chicago Botanic Garden

Columbia is not even close to being the size of Chicago. Yet, this small city has its very own botanic garden.

At a botanic garden, the healing power of nature is evident every day, calming the spirit and nurturing the body and mind. - Sophia Shaw

With COVID-19 in our midst, the gardens serve an even greater purpose as a place of peace and retreat. A recent article in the Missourian by David Webber of the University of Missouri further clarifies why the gardens are a treasure to Columbia.

I have frequented the gardens since coming to MU in 1986. They have served as a harbor and sanctuary after frustrating academic and public meetings, during the COVID-19 shut-in and while digesting disturbing personal and political news. - David Webber in the Missourian

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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