Powell Gardens is a garden oasis in the plains about a half hour southeast of Kansas City. The gardens have become a Kansas City area attraction that feature attractive landscapes, seasonal theme displays, festivals and – of course – weddings.
After entering through the visitors center and paying a nominal ticket fee, you can tour the indoor conservatory, an large greenhouse with carefully tended plants. Each August the conservatory also becomes home to a butterfly garden filled with colorful butterflies.
Outside the conservatory, you’ll encounter the terrace gardens, overlooking the lake and the rest of the gardens surrounding it.
The gardens include:
- The Island Garden, featuring the largest living wall in North America and more than 200 varieties of water plants;
- The Rock and Waterfall Garden, a shade with azaleas and rhododendrons;
- The Heartland Harvest Garden, the nation’s largest edible garden;
- The Meadow and Pavilion, displaying native prairie grasses and flowers;
- The Fountain and surrounding gardens, with a year-round display of dwarf conifers and the Insectory gardens, which help support the Heartland Harvest Garden;
- The Perennial Garden, organized in a series of designed garden spaces;
- The Chapel Walk and Landscape, with a woodland walk through oaks, hickories, and a collection of every variety of redbud.
The visual keystone of the park is probably the Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel. The non-denominational chapel was designed by E. Fay Jones, an apprentice and disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright. (Note: Jones also designed Thorncrown Chapel near Eureka Springs, Arkansas.) The chapel’s stark linear organization contrast with soft landscape, but feels at home nestled between the woodland and prairie grass vistas.
Of course, a chapel in such a picturesque attraction is home to many, many weddings, so you may have to wait for a wedding ceremony to wrap up if you want to look inside.
Did the edible gardens pique your interest? Let’s get back to that.
The Heartland Harvest Garden is a new feature of Powell Gardens, opened in 2009. It promises a journey from seed to plate. From late May to Early October, the Tasting Station is open to sample the flavor of the Harvest Garden. You can even learn how to bring the magic home with educational sessions with horticulturalists and chef demonstrations.
You can’t do it, because it’s sold out, but the 2014 Missouri Barn Dinners Series featured six chefs with one-night only menus. Be sure to check the website before you plan a trip, because other events have included wine tastings and pairings.
Powell Gardens also knows how to get kids excited about your visit to the botanical paradise. Each year, the gardens feature a major exhibit – usually with kids in mind. From mazes to dinosaurs to animals, the staff find interesting ways to pepper the landscape with the exhibit of the summer.
There are also plenty of events to keep you coming back for more.
In the spring, the garden features a pancake breakfast and Easter Egg hunt and an Easter Brunch buffet. You can also bring a bit of the gardens home with you at the Spring Plant Sale, and you can treat mom to a brunch buffet in Cafe Thyme on Mother’s Day.
Summertime features the Missouri Barn Dinners Series and is probably the busiest time of year for the botanical garden.
In the fall, runners can participate in the Run Fast / Eat Slow 5K Run and Nature Trail Trek. In October, families can skip the spooky Halloween attractions available elsewhere in favor of Powell Gardens’ Jack-o-Lantern Walk.
Lest you believe a Midwestern Botanical Garden is only worth visiting from spring to fall, Powell Gardens keeps it going year round with a Breakfast with Santa, a luminary garden walk, and even a wassailing evening with a country dinner with produce from the Harvest Garden by the fireplace.
Be sure to check the website before planning an event though. Some are limited, and the dinner events often sell out quickly.