About Us

Experience the Magic of Nature

The Prairie Garden Trust, or PGT, is a gem of place where you can enjoy the beauty of nature. Stroll through woods and prairie, along ponds and streams to see the ever-changing plants and the birds, butterflies, mammals and more that live here.

We call it a nature garden because it has the beauty of native plants without the messiness of nature untended. The "displays" vary by season: flowering dogwood, redbud, Virginia bluebells and phlox in the early spring, then purple coneflowers and butterfly weed as the prairie blooms in June with blazing star and lotus in July.

Although the PGT has been more than 25 years in the making, we just ramped up the efforts in the past year with a great deal of "tidying up" of the landscape and creating more graceful edges between fields and woods. We're also in the process of designing and developing enhanced trails over the next few years.

Once you step into the Prairie Garden Trust, you can leave the urban world behind and stimulate your senses with the calls of a wood thrush, the scent of plum in bloom, and stunning views from moss and lichen-covered limestone bluffs.

History of the PGT

In 1971 Herb and Joan Domke moved to the land that now forms the basis of PGT. As their interest in gardening expanded into an appreciation of the natural landscape, they began to focus on enhancing what was there and adding more native plants. White oak woods were thinned and managed for long-term growth and visual appeal. Meandering paths drew attention to the abundant spring wildflowers.

Herb had ponds of varying depths dug. Lotus, water lilies, pickerel weed, arrowhead and southern blue flag were given homes in the mucky bottoms and damp edges, which in turn attracted more variety of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

In spite of all these changes, one habitat remained out of character. Old fescue fields stood as poor reminders of the native prairies that once enriched a third of Missouri. So in 1986, with the help of Mervin Wallace (who was just starting Missouri Wildflowers Nursery), Herb and Joan began the long effort of converting fescue to a diverse mix of native grasses and flowers. Jamie Coe served as part-time land manager. Herb passed away in 1991.

A fire broke out on a bitterly cold winter night February 2004 at the almost-century old farmhouse of the PGT and by the next day it was all ashes. Firefighters worked hard to save the interesting cedar "porch" addition that Herb built in the 1970s, but smoldering embers reignited and burned that to the ground a few days later. A new house for Joan and future PGT visitor center was completed a year later. A 38 x 16 room along the west side of the building allows occasional small education/conservation groups to visit the PGT and have a place to gather with a porch of equal size along it.

The PGT was turned into a nonprofit foundation in 2010.  Joan died in 2012. With the help of a new master plan developed in 2012-2013, we're refining trails and other infrastructure. A full-time horticulturist and a groundskeeper continue to add to the beauty of the native landscapes.