You might not expect to find one the Midwest’s premiere botanical gardens in a small town, but there it is, tucked away in Kingsville. Powell Gardens is a 45 minute drive from Kansas City, far from the hustle and bustle of the city. However, the immersive landscape and plant diversity make the trip well worth the drive.
Powell Gardens is located on 970 acres of grassy green hills and windswept meadows. You’ll find over 6,000 different species of plants in their living collection, including conifers, magnolias, orchids, dogwoods, and plenty of native greenery. Whether you’re interested in local nonprofits, Kansas City attractions, or just enjoy nature, Powell Gardens is a hidden jewel you can’t miss out on.
In this article, we’ll highlight some of our favorite parts of Kansas City’s botanical garden. We couldn’t touch on every attraction here, but we encourage you to visit for yourself to see everything Powell Gardens has to offer.
MARLESE LOWE GOURLEY ISLAND GARDEN
When thinking of plants, you usually don’t think of the ones that flourish by water, but Powell Gardens has a whole collection dedicated to aquatic plants.
The Marlese Lowe Gourley Island Garden sits at the center of a 12 acre lake and features tiered pools and a sunken garden, all chock full of unique plant life. Keep an eye out for waterlilies, umbrella palms, and taro. Perennials such as rose mallows and cattails line the pathway near the arbor and viewing deck. Look closely and you can even spot colorful goldfish swimming in the water. As you’re walking through the garden, there’s a beautiful view of the chapel in the distance.
Marjorie allen Powell Chapel
The trip isn’t complete without a stop by the chapel. With 13 feet tall doors and 2,550 panes of glass surrounding you on all sides, the Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel is a beautiful place to rest, reflect, or simply enjoy the scenic view below. The chapel was designed by E. Fay Jones using the Prairie school architectural style, pioneered by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. On most days, the chapel is open to visitors, although it’s also a hot spot for weddings and other events.
Heartland Harvest Garden
Originally created as an edible landscape in 2008, the Heartland Harvest Garden is described as the “heart” of Powell Gardens, with paths leading off to many other attractions. The edible garden is close to the children’s garden, an interactive playground that encourages plant and play exploration.
As you explore the Heartland Harvest Garden, you’ll see all different kinds of produce, herbs, grains, and nuts. The garden’s food is used during special events, eaten by volunteers and staff, and donated to the community. While you’re there, don’t forget to climb to the top of the silo, which overlooks the garden and its unique quilt patterns.
There’s always something exciting going on at Kansas City’s botanical garden, no matter what time of year you visit. Seasonal events include festivals, classes, and limited exhibits. Prepare for your visit by checking the upcoming events calendar on their website. Here’s a sampling of the festivities Powell Gardens plans throughout the years:
July/August: The Festival of Butterflies
There’s something about a butterfly sighting that always feels whimsical and special, even if it’s just one. We can guarantee you’ll see many more at this special summer event! Come see butterflies from all around the world during the much-anticipated Festival of Butterflies. From colorful art installations to exhibits on monarch conservation, this event is all about celebrating the unique beauty of Lepidoptera. And with lots of activities for both kids and grown ups, this festival has something for everyone.
October: Dark Forest
During the fall, Powell Gardens shows off a different side of itself; an ethereal, other-worldly realm. Are you brave enough to venture into the Dark Forest? Be warned—the forest can be dangerous after nightfall. A strange place awaits you, teeming with spectral sights and spell-binding creatures. If you want something a cut above the traditional haunted house experience, Dark Forest is for you. This year, the event will take place Friday, October 15.
November/December: Festival of Lights
At the Festival of Lights, more than 20 miles of lights transform Powell Gardens into a winter wonderland. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enjoy a stroll down a lighted path. Along the way, you’ll find unique installations that highlight the Gardens’ unique architecture and landscape.
Support The Gardens
We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at what Powell Gardens has to offer. If you want to support the work it does for education and conversation, you can give your time as a docent or volunteer. It’s a great way to experience the Gardens for free and connect with other nature enthusiasts!