After the Climatron and the Temperate House, my friend went home to rest (these colds are really going around), but despite the quickly descending chill and picking up winds, I decided to stay. While there were still quite a few patrons at the gardens, it was relatively empty compared to what you would find in any other season. I walked through the Victorian gardens, the rose garden, the Ottoman garden... there was still lots of green despite the leafless trees and flowerless garden beds. The empty trees and shrubs were beautiful and eerie in their own right. I took a tour of the Tower Grove House for some history lessons, which I immensly enjoyed, though could have used more (getting out of the cold was nice too!).
The Japanese Garden, which is one of the largest areas of the park, was quiet and absolutely gorgeous. I passed by fascinating trees, rock gardens, Koi fish, and islands in the middle of a very large pond that rippled in the high winds (the sacred tea house island was closed, to my dismay). Even though it is very popular, I was able to find a quiet bench overlooking the lake and just sit quietly and enjoy the nature around me. It was peaceful and serene. I enjoyed the Chinese Garden, the children's garden, the herb and experimental gardens, and the English woodland paths that passed by streams (all man-made, but appreciated nonetheless).
I don't know how far I walked. The website says the entire Botanical Gardens is 72 acres, with the Japanese strolling Garden being 14 acres alone. I didn't do too much off-path exploring, but I did do a little (where it is allowed, of course), and I was in the park for a least a couple hours. I felt invigorated by the beauty to be found even in winter (and the strong wind helped too!)
I don't have any pictures because I forgot my camera and my phone camera is terrible, but I'm posting a couple pictures of the gardens last time I went, clearly in spring or summer.