Throughout the history of the Missouri Governor’s Mansion, the gardens surrounding the home have received much attention. During the term of Governor Stark (1937-1941), First Lady Stark joined her husband in taking interest in the trees and shrubs on the grounds. During their time in the home, thousands of plants were added to the gardens including a rose garden. Among their contributions are several fruit trees that continue to produce today.

Landscaping was a passion of First Lady Donnelly, wife of Governor Donnelly. She delighted in blooming plants and went on with her landscaping and gardening just as she would have done at home. It saddened her, however, to look out her window and see the unfinished garden just below the Mansion. The public eyesore was nothing more than “piles of rubble and unsightly excavations”—the remains of a depression-era project that ran out of funds. The First Lady extracted $15,000 dollars from the legislature to make improvements on the abandoned site. Not content to oversee the project from the back porch of the Mansion, Juanita became the on-site supervisor. Once when a group of ladies arrived from her hometown, they found the First Lady in the garden, down on her hands and knees, digging alongside the prison work crew. Thanks to her efforts in horticulture, the once abandoned area below the Mansion was transformed into what is known as the “Governor’s Gardens” which encompasses a sunken pool, terraces, walkways, and a pergola.

The Mansion also houses a flourishing vegetable garden. Tomatoes, jalapeños, blackberries, and green beans are just some of the vegetables and fruits you will find in the Mansion gardens. Our staff makes efforts to incorporate the fresh garden produce into the menus for events hosted at the People’s House!