Powell Gardens 2016 Fall Lecture Series

As we move into the fall season, perhaps you’re busy getting your garden or landscape ready for its winter rest. Just because your plants will be resting doesn’t mean you can’t continue thinking, planning, and learning about your plants and landscape throughout the fall and winter seasons! We are excited to share with you the final programs in our 2016 Fall Lecture Series, to be held at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Library – two excellent presentations that will inform your work with native plants and increase your environmental awareness.


Dr. Peter Raven
On Tuesday, November 1st, join Dr. Peter Raven – Missouri Botanical Gardens’ president emeritus – as he presents “Saving Plants, Saving Ourselves”, a special lecture championing efforts to care for our environment during a time of rapid change, and emphasizing the importance of plants in our own health. Dr. Raven is a longtime champion of research geared toward saving Earth’s endangered plants and is a leading advocate for conservation and environmental sustainability.
RSVP for this free lecture here.


On Tuesday, December 6th, Alan Branhagen, Powell Gardens’ director of horticulture, will delve into his recently published book, Native Plants of the Midwest – A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 500 Species for the Garden. The book serves as the ultimate guide to the best indigenous plants for the Midwest and provides all you need to know to grow them successfully in your own landscape. During his presentation, he’ll introduce you to some of the best selections from the book and will offer ideas on adding them to your landscape for an infusion, of color, texture, and biodiversity.
Alan’s book will be available in stores starting November 30th. Pre-order your copy now through Perennial Gifts, the Powell Gardens gift shop! You may choose to have the book shipped to you (for an extra fee) or pick it up at the lecture! Call 816-697-2600 x309 or stop by the shop to pre-order.
This lecture is also part of Powell Gardens’ new Native Plant School!
Click here to learn more about Alan’s book, the Native Plant School, and to RSVP for this free lecture after November 6th.

Our Society of Perennial Partners will enjoy exclusive perks at both lectures. Join the Society by November 1st and attend a special pre-lecture reception with Dr. Peter Raven at Andre’s Confisurie Suisse, and receive a free copy of Alan Branhagen’s book and attend an exclusive reception after his lecture, hosted by Wendy and George Powell. RSVP required. Contact Andrea Mason at 816-697-2600 x207 with questions or to join.

This Weekend: Harvest Celebration & Antique Tractor, Engine & Equipment Show

9.30 AC


9 a.m.-5 p.m. October 1-2, 2016

Tractors are rolling in for this weekend’s Harvest Celebration & Antique Tractor, Engine & Equipment Show. Join us for this celebration of our agricultural roots. In addition to the tractor display, we’ll have cooking demonstrations, Show-Me Gourd Society exhibit, pumpkin painting ($4/pumpkin), hayrides, kids’ pedal pull, a dulcimer concert and more. See the Harvest Celebration schedule. Festival admission applies: $12/adults, $10/seniors 60+, $5/children 5-12, free/children under 5 and Gold-level and above members.

9.30 JG quetz

This is also the final weekend for Jurassic Garden! See the dinosaurs before they’re extinct. Jurassic Garden is open through Monday, Oct. 3. Don’t miss it!



Native Plant School

This fall, Powell Gardens brings back its popular Native Plant School (last held in 2010). We have three programs scheduled for 2016 and are busy putting together the Native Plant School curriculum for 2017. The ultimate goal is to start a “Sustainable/Native Garden” certificate (exact name is still to be determined).

Wild Plums (Prunus sp.) are a beautiful and delicious small tree for an edible landscape.

Our first program is scheduled for Saturday, October 8th: Native Edible Plants. Edible plants are currently very popular and speaking about them gives me a flashback to the grand opening of the Heartland Harvest Garden. Edible Landscape guru Rosalind Creasy spoke at that event and reminded us of the importance of soil — what places like Israel spend and do to create soil and how we (who are blessed with it) “throw it away” by building over it, or planting lawns and tidy ornamental plants. She devoted her life towards the compromise of creating edible landscapes. The Heartland Harvest Garden she proclaimed as the largest edible landscape in the country.

Rosalind Creasy’s book Edible Landscaping was recently updated and remains a classic book inspiring edible landscaping.

Native plants, being the original inhabitants and creators of our great Midwestern soils, are the building blocks of a sustainable landscape and there are many native edible plants that do just that in the Heartland Harvest Garden. The natives are integrated with the traditional and unique edible plants to act as support for the web of life that we work with in an organic garden. They attract the insects that are pollinators, predators of other insect pests, or food for birds that help keep the balance of nature in the garden. Learn to work with Mother Nature and not against her!

An Olive Juniper Hairstreak nectars on a mountain-mint (Pycnanthemum sp.), a native edible that makes a fine tea but also attracts many pollinator and beneficial insects to a garden.

Our keynote, Dr. Linda Hezel practices this at her organic “Prairie Birthday Farm.” I got to know her many moons ago as I helped with a survey of butterflies on her farm. Dr. Hezel understands the value of native plants and animals and their role creating a healthy environment that produces nutritious, local food. She will share her story that is inspiring as she provides 25 local chefs with unique produce for their menus including many natives: from wild persimmons and plums to native hops’ spears, wild greens, and honey.

Wild persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) are both beautiful and tasty (when ripe!).

Our second speaker is Dr. Nadia Navarrete-Tindall of Lincoln University in Jefferson City. Nadia is soon to have a book on native edible plants published and is one of the most knowledgeable about Lower Midwest native edible plants and preparing delicious foods from them. Nadia also practices the whole web of life scenario of native plants from pollinators and other beneficial insects to the value of birds and other wildlife.

Fresh picked pawpaws from the Heartland Harvest Garden.

Powell Gardens’ Horticulture staff will conduct the remainder of the program beginning with Barbara Fetchenhier who will do a dessert demonstration after lunch. (Plan on sampling some pawpaw ice cream!) Harvest Garden Horticulturist Mark Gawron and I will lead a tour of the garden looking at its many native plants and sharing the inside scoop on their maintenance and value in an edible landscape. Barbara will share a few more treats from the plants on the tour, too.

Wild Strawberries (Fragaria virginiana) used as groundcover in the Peach Court of the Heartland Harvest Garden.

Harvest Garden Gardener Eric Wagner will give the final program on Food Forests and Permaculture — designing and creating landscapes that use nature as a model for developing a diverse habitat filled with appropriate edible plants from canopy shade trees of pecans and walnuts to understory trees of mulberries and pawpaws to shrubs and herbaceous perennials.

We hope you come away from these programs inspired to enhance your own landscape to become more sustainable, healthy, delicious and nutritious!

Marc & Mary Robinson have a native grove of pecans and we have grown nuts from their best tree as a legacy tree for our region.

November 5th will be our second class on Native Shade and Evergreen Trees at Powell Gardens. December 6th will be a new “how to” program introducing my book Native Plants of the Midwest — to be held at the Plaza branch of The Kansas City Public Library.

Native Plants by AB 500 tall

There is a fee for the first two programs. Please sign up for those by calling Linda Burton at 816-697-2600 ext. 209. To sign up for the Dec. 6 library program, which is free, please RSVP (starting Nov. 6) at kclibrary.org. That program includes a book signing (you can purchase the book at the event or in advance from Perennial Gifts, Powell Gardens’ gift shop).


Wondrous Waterlilies

As signs of fall’s subtle beauty begin to appear, let’s take a moment to appreciate a few summer showstoppers that are still here! In the Island Garden, you’ll find jewel-like waterlilies in a rainbow of colors for about two more weeks. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out, now’s the perfect time!20572906285_fe38e2aef4_zWaterlilies come in a wide variety of colors and shapes – and though we often can’t get close enough to tell, many are wonderfully scented.

28266867040_8e672d1927_zThis Presnell hybrid tropical waterlily seems to glow!

27517538710_73d3ab6737_z“Peaches and Cream” waterlilies

22046104311_d5303bf896_z“Colchicum” waterlilies

20899162029_acd31a4c39_z“Avalanche” Presnell waterlilies

19857036385_5711759709_z“Pink Beauty” waterlilies

We hope you have the chance to enjoy these final blooms of summer!




Dazzling Dahlias

Thank you to our friends from the Greater Kansas City Dahlia Society for bringing a beautiful display of dahlia blooms of every size, shape and color to Powell Gardens over Labor Day weekend. Below are some of the spectacular blooms in case you missed them.

This weekend (Sept. 17 and 18, 2016), society members host their 69th Annual Dahlia Show at Loose Park Garden Center in Kansas City, Mo. The show, which will feature 200 blooms, is open to the public from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18.

Dahlia "Bear Creek Sunrise"

“Bear Creek Sunrise”

Dahlia Beep Beep

“Beep Beep”

Dahlia "Kelvin Floodlight"

“Kelvin Floodlight” (a huge flower measuring more than 8 inches across)

Dahlia Colorado Classic
“Colorado Classic”

Dahlia White Lace

“White Lace”

Dahlia Little Bee's Wing a miniature pompom variety
“Little Bee’s Wing”

Dahlia "Masurao"

Dahlia "Solar Flare"
“Solar Flare”

This Weekend (Aug. 20-21) at the Gardens


Sunflowers on a sunny day.

We’re so excited for the beautiful weather forecast for this weekend! Bright blue skies and a nice breeze are the perfect backdrop to a Powell Gardens visit.  As always, we have a little something for everyone that’s a little out of the ordinary.


This weekend is your last chance to see the incredible tropical butterflies in the conservatory.  Without the festival crowds, enjoy seeing shimmering Emerald Swallowtails, Blue Morphos and more as they flutter through a lush tropical landscape.


On Saturday at 2 p.m., catch a spicy Fresh Bites demo with Barb the Gardener at the Missouri Barn. She and special guest Grace Radillo will explore cooking with a Mexican flair. Fresh Bites is included with general admission. Come hungry!


Can’t make it out this weekend? Consider joining us at one of our upcoming special events:


Our popular Booms and Blooms festival has been moved to Saturday, September 3rd. After being rained out in July, we decided to share this fun event over Labor Day weekend instead! Let us bring the fun to your family with live music, hot food, crafts for the kids, and of course – a spectacular fireworks show!


Looking for a change of pace? Join us for a rustic yet elegant dinner at the Missouri Barn. Our signature fall fundraiser, Under a Harvest Moon, takes place on September 18th. This expertly-crafted, farm-to-table meal by Chef Cody Hogan of Lidia’s will feature produce fresh from the Heartland Harvest Garden. Enjoy a raffle to win an exclusive wine tasting, and a special silent auction to win dinner in the beautiful landscaped garden at the home of Chef Cody Hogan. All proceeds support Powell Gardens’ youth education programs.

Powell Gardens’ 20th Annual Festival of Butterflies Is Now Open!

Here are a few scenes from the 20th Annual Festival of Butterflies, which opened today at Powell Gardens. The fun continues all weekend (and the following weekend, Aug. 12-14). Come on out and have a close encounter with some spectacular butterflies!

8.5.16 Palamedes Swallowtail

8.5.16 White Peacock butterfly 

8.5.16 Scarlet Mormon swallowtail 

8.5.16 Malachite butterfly

Butterflies pictured above include (top to bottom): Palamedes Swallowtail*, White Peacock, Scarlet Mormon Swallowtail (male)* and Malachite*. *Photo by Alan Branhagen, Director of Horticulture at Powell Gardens

8.5.16 Monarch release butterfly breezeway

These lucky kids got to help Alan Branhagen release monarchs in the butterfly breezeway.

8.5.16 parade around fountain garden

Each day at 11 a.m. Ms. Frizzle leads a costume parade around the fountain. This year, we welcomed a new parade participant: Linda Williams created an amazing spicebush swallowtail caterpillar (below) especially for the festival’s 20th anniversary!

8.5.16 spicebush swallowtail caterpillar

There’s much more festival fun ahead this weekend. See the schedule at powellgardens.org/butterfly.