The fountain at the Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel, May 2013.
The fountain at the Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel, May 2013.
Watching a child take her first bite of a blackberry; her wonderment at pulling up a plump, red radish; or the sense of pride she feels from knowing she picked, washed and prepared her own fresh garden snack are moments I savor as an educator. Children are our future horticulturists, gardeners and environmentalists, and they need outdoor education experiences to nurture their budding appreciation of nature.
At Powell Gardens’ Fun Foods Farm, students are immersed in plant science through our Pathways in Learning field trips. Our message: People cannot live without plants! This spring a steady stream of yellow buses is bringing us nearly 1,000 students to plant a seed, dig in the dirt, explore a pond or take a guided nature walk.
We have found that a lot of kids just don’t get that much time out in nature. A field trip to Powell Gardens gives them a chance to be outdoors in a safe and structured setting. Unlike other locations with many “stay-on-the-path” and “do-not-touch” rules, we encourage youth to step off the sidewalk to touch, smell and taste to fully experience the gardens.
Our programs are led by trained educators, as well, and ensure each field trip is aligned to the most current state science standards so that teachers know the experience will build upon the learning that takes place back at school. Here’s what teachers are saying about field trips to Powell Gardens:
“Thank you again for the wonderful experience! The children had a great time and came back with some powerful knowledge to bridge to the classroom.” (Teacher, Christian Ott Elementary)
“Our trip last Thursday was excellent. The presenters did a fabulous job of engaging our students. I imagine our post test will show a significant amount of learning took place.” (Title One Resource, Lee A. Tolbert Academy)
“I wanted to thank you for making our trip to Powell Gardens wonderful! We appreciate you accommodating our large group. Your class received rave reviews from students and parents alike. Your enthusiasm was contagious. I was amazed at how many students tried your special cheese ball!” (Teacher, Timothy Lutheran School)
We would love for even more students to experience all Powell Gardens can offer. Help us spread the word— tell your child’s teacher, summer school teachers and scout leaders about Powell Gardens and our field trip opportunities. Now is the perfect time to schedule a summer or fall field trip to Powell Gardens and catch the NATURE CONNECTS exhibit opening June 1.
Thanks for helping us plant the seeds of knowledge.
Yes, Dogwood Winter is the term southerners use for springtime periods of cold that often coincides with the bloom of local dogwoods. This spring dogwoods are blooming at least 2 weeks later than normal here at Powell Gardens but this potential literal event is not unprecedented in nature’s timeline. I remember being Nashville in April when the dogwoods were in bloom and it SNOWED like crazy. My introduction to the term “dogwood winter.”
I took this image of a dogwood flower cluster yesterday (May Day) which was a balmy 82F. Remember the flowers are the actual buds in the center surrounded by the gorgeous bracts. The bracts of this Missouri wild dogwood in the Rock & Waterfall Garden are not fully expanded and still in the lime-cream-touched with pink stage (the time I think they are particularly exquisite). Continue reading
Each May, the Bonsai Society of Greater Kansas City brings its spring exhibit to Powell Gardens, giving visitors a wonderful opportunity to learn about this fascinating ancient art form firsthand. This year, members will be setting up during National Public Gardens Day on Friday, May 10, and will present the full exhibit on May 11 and 12.
Today we talk with Kathy Schlesinger, a board member and exhibit chair for the society, about her love for all things bonsai.
Q. How did you get interested in the art of bonsai?
A. While still living on the East Coast a work colleague shared an article published in the Smithsonian Magazine about bonsai. This was just a few weeks before I was moving to Missouri. I couldn’t put the magazine down. I had always loved art, from finger paints to clay, and this art form using plants was just so incredible I knew I would have to try it some day.
Q. What’s your No. 1 piece of advice for beginners?
A. Don’t worry about the “art;” that will come with time as you train your eyes. Learn about the plant you are growing and what it needs when growing in a pot. A well-designed bonsai will still die if you don’t know how to take care of it.
Q. What’s your favorite thing about the art of bonsai?
A. That’s a hard question as I like all the different steps and the continual learning that goes into the process. However, when I am working on a tree I quickly notice how I am not thinking about anything else. The stress from the day or week are far from my thoughts and I’m relaxed and enjoying the moment. For me that is too cool for words.
Q. What are some common myths or misconceptions about bonsai?
A. There are quite a few. Among the questions asked most often: No, there is not one specific plant that is a bonsai. Any plant that will make a woody stem and will thrive in a pot can be used for bonsai. The wire used on the branches in Japanese bonsai does not restrict the growth but is used for designing the tree and is temporary. And we water and fertilize a lot compared to most other outdoor gardening.
Q. What’s your favorite thing about Powell Gardens?
A. Oh wow, that is a very hard question! I guess my favorite is not a “thing” but the feeling of being out and in nature. You can sit in one of the patio areas or you can lose yourself out walking about, but the beauty of nature is all around you no matter where you look. That is truly a gift.
Q. How do you pronounce bonsai?
A. Bonsai is pronounced “BONE’ – sigh.” Bon means pot or tray; simply put, it means pot-planted or “plant in a pot.”
Join Kathy for a free program introducing you to this ancient art at 1:30 p.m. on all three days of the exhibit, May 10-12.
Peak bloom of spring-flowering trees creates one of the most colorful experiences in the garden. Redbuds, our classic native spring-flowering tree normally are beginning to bloom on April 10th! This year we are now 2 weeks behind “average” but we are thrilled to report that all the cold snaps did NO damage to flowering and fruit trees (only very minor damage to some magnolia flowers). It got down briefly to 31F with NO frost: whew! So come out this weekend and enjoy the show!
Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) with their blue-pink “raspberry sherbet” colored flowers are always the colorful breath of springtime in our local woodlands, yards and gardens of the region. You can readily see that redbuds are related to peas and beans by the shape of their flowers and subsequent seed pods. Continue reading
Check out the salad ‘ball’ in the Villandry Quilt Garden, a great centerpiece for the nation’s largest edible landscape.
It’s raining out again. The gardeners here at Powell Gardens are cursing the gods above because it’s been challenging to “muck” in plants this spring. See, I feel a bit differently. I see the rain, feel the dampness and smile. This is prime mushroom time!
Springtime in Missouri means getting on sturdy work boots, slathering on tick repellent and hitting the woods to hunt the illusive morels (and no, I won’t tell you my secret spot), Hen of the Woods and oyster mushrooms. That’s my kind of hunting. Because I cannot take you all with me into the woods, I’ll do the next best thing…
I will teach you how to grow your own mushrooms in my “The Fungus Among Us” demonstrations coming up this Saturday, April 27. Join me at 11 a.m. or at 2 p.m. in the Missouri Barn.
I will be inoculating oak logs with shiitake mycelium. The procedure includes drilling, filling and sealing. Come to think of it, that sounds like what the dentist would do but my procedure won’t hurt you or your pocketbook!
Making your own mushroom log is pretty easy and with this free hands-on demo you could help me in the process. I’ll also have several logs already inoculated and available for purchase so you can have your very own mushroom farm!
The shiitake mushroom is the second most widely cultivated mushroom in the world. It has been popular in Asian cuisine for hundreds of years. Their flavor is exquisite! I describe it as rich, buttery and meaty—.very unlike any other mushroom.
Shiitakes have four to ten times the flavor of common white button mushrooms. In addition to their robust, woodsy flavor and meaty texture, shiitakes provide high levels of protein, potassium, niacin and B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Shiitake mushrooms are known for their ability to improve your immune system, their antibacterial properties and cancer fighting compounds.
Each year I have several area chefs calling me for fresh shiitakes because they appreciate this culinary treasure. Come out to see me Saturday to learn more! My demo is included with your regular Garden admission.