Maintaining the Future

A visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden takes you through a variety of landscapes from across the globe—and that’s one of the main things John and Ann Bieller like about it. Both of them have memories of visiting the Garden as children with school and family, and they enjoyed coming together as a young married couple. “I remember the construction of the Climatron® and visiting the Desert House too,” John says. “Later in life, when we travelled, it was so interesting to see those same plants in their native environments.”

The Garden engaged John and Ann with the diversity of the botanical world. It also helped John in his professional life. In the 1960s, he worked with Ameren as an assistant gardener and retired many years later as the manager of forestry. Throughout his career, he connected with Garden experts for advice. “I got to know a lot of great people on the Garden staff, like Ben Chu and Steve Kline,” John says. “In turn, I was able to connect Ameren to some great projects at the Garden. Ameren was involved with the ground cover and supported the development of the [William T.] Kemper Center for Home Gardening.”

The couple enjoys taking out-of-town friends to the Garden and the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, where they particularly appreciate the development of the outdoor native butterfly garden. They also understand the Garden’s role beyond our community. “As much as I like seeing my money working locally,” John says, “I also appreciate the Garden’s work outside the country.” Ann shared an example after a visit to Peru a few years ago. “We were staying at an eco-lodge and exploring the upper Amazon,” she says. “Our guide was telling our group about a researcher from the United States who was working on projects with the local people. The team was very excited about a plant that had been discovered in the region that might have cancer-fighting properties. That researcher was from the Missouri Botanical Garden.”

John and Ann enjoy watching the Garden grow through the years. “We had the Garden in our will for a long time,” John says, “but we didn’t think to say so. We appreciate seeing the Garden so well maintained, the history preserved at the same time new things are added—like reopening Shaw’s Museum and creating Garden Glow. We want to see things keep going, and for us, that means joining the Heritage Society.” 

Ann agrees. “For me, it’s giving back to the community and understanding what I’ve gotten out of it. There’s a quote about this in the Carver Garden that resonates with me.” That quote, by George Washington Carver, is: “No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.”

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