Fun & Games: Play in the Gardens
May 13 – September 12, 2021
Included with Garden admission | Members receive free admission
The transformative power of play, combined with the benefits of fresh, midwestern summer air are the focus of our summer exhibition, Fun and Games: Play in the Garden.
Spend your summer playing outside in the Gardens, where new games and activities are popping up across every inch of the Gardens throughout the season. Keep an eye on @PowellGardens on social media for surprise activations and to find out what’s new in the Gardens. You’ll want to visit throughout the summer to experience all this exhibition has to offer.
This ticket is good for one-day general admission to Powell Gardens and special exhibitions including Fun & Games: Play in the Gardens. Does not apply to seasonal festivals.
Discover 13 New Ways to Play at Powell Gardens
Newly installed flags mark thirteen new ways to play. Look for the colorful icons (included in the descriptions below) and start exploring the Gardens in a whole new way!
Make your way up the winding stairs to the silo’s observation deck to test your spy skills. Solve the riddles on display, and use the high vantage point to search for larger-than-life animal sculptures. Each of the animals are important members of the Heartland Harvest Garden ecosystem. Look up, down, and all around because the resident animals may be close by!
Look out for some our living garden residents! Red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, and barred owls frequent the gardens.
Due to COVID-19, Fun & Games: Play in the Gardens is facing delays impacting Fun From Above. Stay tuned!
Build nature boats, search the pond for seasonal residents, play nature games, and construct gnome and fairy homes among fallen trees and waterways on the new Discovery Trail. This one-mile hike meanders through wooded and aquatic ecosystems with five trail stops and 16 hands-on activities for groups, families, and individuals.
For a longer adventure, consider the 3.25 mile Byron Shutz Trail. Hikers will pass through woods of Osage orange and honeylocust into a field of meadow flowers.
Parents: Please note that Powell Gardens is a play at your own risk space. Please supervise your children at all times.
Embark on a family-friendly, high-tech version of a treasure hunt to find hidden containers, or caches. The hunt leads to a few favorite gardens with gorgeous views. To begin, download the Geocaching App on your phone, create a free account, and select one of the treasure locations in the Gardens.
Geocaching is a worldwide recreational activity. Continue the treasure hunt beyond the Gardens.
Take a journey on our secret trail through the David T. Beals Woodland and Stream Garden where you’ll find unusual plants and mystical forest dwellings. This summer, forest gnomes set up residence and began gardening in our wooded landscape. Investigate every tree stump and search under each fallen log for our newest inhabitants.
Stumps and logs are among the best places to search for overlooked but essential garden residents. Fungi, bacteria, and lichen hide in these places, breaking down the wood into nutrients for new plants to use.
Welcome to the Stumping Grounds, where you can hop, skip, climb, and balance upon tree stumps, logs, and a net climber.
Did you know that tree stumps tell stories? Trees are like books written by Mother Nature. A tree’s life story is told through its rings. By reading the rings, we can tell if and when water was scarce, fire threatened a forest, and more. We can count the rings to learn the age of a tree. Count the rings on the tree stumps you see in this area. Which is from the oldest tree?
Cool off from the summer heat by splashing in the fountain. Don’t be caught off guard when the geysers erupt! Enjoy the water as it showers over you and splash in the puddles as they begin to disappear.
The fountain is the largest flower of them all! Featuring 56 spray heads, it creates the impression of an opening flower.
Climb aboard P.G.S. Discovery and use your imagination to defend the lake and its residents from invaders. Every ship needs a crew and a captain – all hands on deck! Use the spyglass to search for intruders and fend off enemies with the cannon. Pass materials to and from the captain’s deck by hoisting the bucket, pull up the anchor, and use the captain’s wheel to steer away from shore.
The lake is habitat for fascinating species. Muskrats, turtles, ducks, freshwater mussels, raccoons are some of the critters found in the lake.
Toss a few mini-discs (frisbees) on this nine-hole, mini disc golf course on the East Lawn with friends and family. Pick up a set of mini discs at the front desk in the Visitor Center.
While disc golf has become a common recreation at local parks, Powell Gardens has the only mini disc golf course in the Kansas City metro.
“Yuck!” may be your response to the thought of these “bugs,” but worms and other invertebrates are important for breaking down dead matter into reusable nutrients (food) and loosening up the soil to allow space for water and air. These organisms are always welcome in our garden beds. Dig into the garden bed with a trowel and search for play worms and other decomposers.
No food web is complete without decomposers and detritivores. These organisms that get their nutrients from dead and dying plants and animals.
Please return the trowels and organisms to this area when you are finished playing.
Usually, we see sunlight as just one color, but by using a prism you can see all the colors that exist within each ray of light. Channel the sun’s rays and create vibrant rainbows by maneuvering the prisms in different directions. Track the sun’s light as it is refracted below, above, and around you over the course of the day. Can you find plants in the garden that match the different colors of light?
Did you know that the color of a plant is the one it doesn’t absorb? Each color has its own wavelength that plants absorb or reflect. The wavelength of the color you see is the one that is reflected most.
Create a flower garden with a fun design and brilliant colors. Grab tools and plants from the potting shed to get started. Use the garden hoe to till the soil and the garden trowel (shovel) to dig a hole and plant your flower. To finish up, water the new plants to help them grow.
Cooperation is essential for a perfect garden. Soil, water, sunshine, and the gardener work together to produce pretty blooms.
Please return all materials to the potting shed when you are finished.
Climb, cling, and balance on honeycomb and milkweed stalks in this larger-than-life pollinator garden. Carefully balance on the leaves while moving from one milkweed stalk to another like a monarch caterpillar. Watch for hungry birds – the bitter taste of monarch caterpillars may not be enough to keep their appetites at bay. Investigate the honeycomb and search for bees making honey, but don’t get stuck in a sticky mess!
Did you know Missouri has more species of bees than fish, mammals, and reptiles combined? Missouri is home to more than 450 bee species!
Let your creativity run wild as you maneuver through the sound maze. Experiment with the nature-inspired instruments and discover the joy that making your own music can bring. Each instrument creates a different sound. Push, pull, move, swing, and experiment.
Music is sound, and sound is energy. In the sound maze, transform your energy into sound. Experience a new kind of musical instrument – one that starts with YOU!