February: Garden Reminiscence Becomes Anticipation

Wintertime in the temperate world is when our gardens rest and the time for a gardener to do the same. We reflect upon the past season while dreaming, planning and ordering for the coming year. May you all reminisce on special moments in your and others’ gardens from 2015 and dream up wonderful new plans for the 2016 gardening season that inspire you.

Dawn at Powell Gardens on Monday, February 1, 2016: the gardens at rest, with the lengthening days stirring anticipation for the new growing season.

Willie Hofstetter (Senior Gardener on the Island Garden) poses with his overwintering cast of plant characters destined for the Island Garden in 2016. Yes, the Victoria waterlily seeds have germinated and are flourishing.

One of my fondest garden memories from 2015 was the Island Garden when the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society convention attendees visited.

On Monday (February 1), I also took this picture of a ‘Vulcan’ magnolia blooming in our greenhouses. We received it as a donation from the late great magnolia hybridizer Dennis Ledvina. His protégé, Tom Trzebiatowski, who lives locally, came to collect pollen and cross-pollinate these flowers! Vulcan may be a bit tender here, but we need to get it in the ground for actual trial. Spring planting is always a good idea for most magnolias in our zone.

Snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) are in bloom on the east edge of the Island Garden. I guess the 2016 Growing Season has begun!

Regarding anticipation for spring, I often watch NHK (English version of news from Japan) on KMOS TV (central Missouri public television) in the morning. Yesterday they did a story on the first blooms of the early varieties of flowering cherries in the south of the country. Then they posted a chart of Japan and how the peak flowering moves northward, blooming latest on the north island of Hokkaido in May. I turned the channel to local TV and you all know what the breaking news was — I turned back to NHK. Can you imagine American TV charting the bloom of redbuds, flowering dogwood and wild plums from Gulf Coast to Canada? Shouldn’t we be doing that?

Redbuds usually begin full bloom at Powell Gardens on April 10.

Dogwoods usually bloom later than redbuds but often do overlap here — they are usually at their peak the last week of April at Powell Gardens.

Wild Plums bloom earlier with the redbuds, usually in full bloom on April 10 at the Gardens. So, here’s some anticipation for a wonderful new gardening season. Mother Nature will dictate the sequence of events, and Kansas City’s heat island effect forces earlier blooming (as much as 10 days earlier) than at Powell Gardens. At any rate, I see the glass as half full and am looking forward to an inspiring new gardening season.


Using the Force: Forcing Blooms in Winter

1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, January 30 and 31
If you are like me, your green thumb is itching for spring. Forcing bulbs and branches to bloom indoors during winter is a favorite hobby of avid gardeners but takes planning especially when it comes to bulbs. Long periods of chilling followed by two to three weeks in a darkened, cool room means if you want to enjoy spring bulbs in winter, you really need to start the prep work in the fall.

But don’t fret! It’s not too late to enjoy beautiful hyacinth blooms this winter. We have done the prep work for you. Stop by Powell Gardens from 1-4 p.m. this weekend and take home a pre-chilled hyacinth bulb, a forcing vase and care instructions. You will enjoy fragrant, colorful blooms in a matter of weeks. (Colors may vary.)

All materials provided (vase, bulb and instructions). Fee: $10/project (while supplies last).

Somewhere, over the Rainbow

Powell Gardens lost a beloved friend last week: Doctor Norlan Henderson passed away peacefully at age 100. It would be fitting to write some witty pun, for “Doc” loved puns, and with an IQ of 180 he had no shortage of wit. He served on the original board of Powell Gardens and had shared so much for the gardens for more than 30 years.

Doc, always the teacher…

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Astronomical Event of the Year: Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse

A rare supermoon total lunar eclipse is coming this month, and the dark skies of Powell Gardens afford the perfect spot to watch the stellar event unfold. It is the first supermoon total lunar eclipse since 1982 and the last until 2033. Sunday’s supermoon eclipse is only the fifth since 1900. Catch the first one of the 21st century during a special viewing on Sunday, Sept. 27!

(Photo by Richard Sanderson)

A supermoon is a full moon or new moon that appears larger than normal because of the moon’s closest approach to earth along its elliptical orbit. This one also will be a complete lunar eclipse, causing the moon to appear blood red. And what’s more, this will be visible at a convenient time — early evening on a weekend. How perfect is that?

The astronomy program starts at 6:45 p.m. with a short introduction by the astronomers followed by a beautiful, full moon rising at 6:59 p.m. and a breathtaking sunset at 7:06 p.m. Shortly after, the main event begins. Don’t be late.

Registration continues through Thursday, Sept. 24. To reserve your spot, register online or call Linda at 816-697-2600 ext. 209.

Explore the Joy and Beauty of Ikebana with Sensei Meghan Rowswell

Meghan Rowswell is a visual artist and a sensei in the art of Ikebana. She joins our team of instructors this fall to present a series of classes on the Japanese art of flower arranging.

“The core of Ikebana’s beauty is the combination of colors, graceful lines, textures and latent meanings that suggest a season or an emotion, thus making it more than a mere decoration,” Megan says.

There are many different philosophies of Ikebana and subsequently many different schools.

“I became a sensei in the Ohara school of Ikebana while I was living in northern Japan,” Megan says. “The Ohara school introduced larger shallower vases that were more suitable for shorter stemmed western flowers. It is one of the more conservative schools for it adheres very closely to proportions and forms. Once you have mastered the basic concepts you are then able to explore the more experimental free form styles.”

Ikebana is more than just a one-time experience. It is a skill that is refined and deepened through repeated immersion in the art form. Powell Gardens will offer Ikebana sessions in September, November and December. You can sign up for one, but are encouraged to take multiple sessions. Each session will use different floral material.

Call Linda at 816-697-2600 ext. 209 or see Adult Class  for a complete list of Ikebana sessions and to register. Sessions will fill fast.

An Olfactory Treat on the Island, Dazzling Dahlias and a Last Look at LEGO Art

It’s not often you have the chance to stop and smell the waterlilies, but thanks to a temporary viewing tank in the sunken garden area of the Island Garden you can do just that. Through Labor Day weekend you can see (and smell) a special waterlily collection that came to Powell Gardens as part of the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society’s 2015 symposium in August.

The raised tank allows you to get up close to experience the amazing fragrances from this collection, all of which are hybrids developed by Florida’s Craig Presnell, one of the top waterlily hybridizers in the world.

Here are a few gems from the collection:

‘Zolfo Star’ (photo by Alan Branhagen)

‘Finn O’Hagen’ (photo by Alan Branhagen)

‘Foxfire’ (photo by Alan Branhagen)

The waterlilies in the rest of the Island Garden will continue to shine through September but the temporary tank comes down after Labor Day.

Labor Day weekend also brings your last chance to see the 27 LEGO brick sculptures by New York artist Sean Kenney.

While you’re on the Island Garden, check out the family of LEGO brick ducks. Their habitat has changed dramatically since the exhibit opened in May!

A visit on this Saturday or Sunday also includes a look at the award-winning dahlias grown by members of the Greater Kansas City Dahlia Society.

We look forward to seeing you in the Gardens! Plan your visit today.