Shaw never married and his real love was his Garden. His attitude toward his plants was shown by a story reported in the first volume of the Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Some years ago Mr. Shaw was escorting a lady visitor through the Garden, and pointing out to her the various rare plants and flowers he knew so well and watched so fondly. She said to him, "I cannot understand, sir, how you are able to remember all these different and difficult names." "Madam," he replied with a courtly bow, "did you ever know a mother who could forget the names of her children? These plants and flowers are my children. How can I forget them?"