The weather outside might be frightful, but Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden, is so delightful! The holidays are a time for gathering and reflecting with family, friends, and loved ones. What better backdrop than nature to experience the Midwest spirit of place and camaraderie?
Even with chillier temperatures, plants, animals, and insects continually adapt to make the most of each season. And humans can do the same! Here are Powell Gardens’ top three ways to enjoy the outdoors during the cold months.
Create Winter Habitats for Insects
Insects are just like us! They enact specific tactics to battle the frozen winter months. During this colder period, some insects enter a period of dormancy, which means they prefer snuggly niches called micro-habitats as opposed to migration (like our favorite native pollinator, the Monarch).
Luckily, humans are uniquely positioned to assist our small garden friends through winter habitat creation. Here’s two simple ways to make your outdoor space winter-friendly for insects:
- Keep leaves and plant stems in your garden from the previous season. Not only will this return nutrients to your garden, but these plant materials also add protection and heat conservation for native insects and other garden visitors.
- Use alternatives to large wood-chip mulches, such as compost or leaf mold, as it provides an easier point of access for overwintering insects.
For more information on overwintering insects, check out our Conservation Insights blog post.
Create a Winter Pinecone Bird Feeder
Looking for a simple, kid-friendly craft that also supports winged garden visitors? Check out Powell Gardens’ recipe for a winter pinecone bird feeder.
- Tablecloth, paper plates, or newspaper – Be prepared! This project can become messy.
- Pinecone – Preferably a larger pinecone, with flared scales for easier access. Either foraged or store-bought work well for this craft.
- Sturdy string or twine – Avoid thin threads.
- Popsicle sticks or butter knives – Used for spreading the peanut butter/fat source.
- Scissors – Used for cutting your string of choice.
- Birdseed – Your blend of choice will depend on the types of native birds you receive.
- Peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, or shortening – These fat sources are perfect for bird friends during the winter.
- Place your tablecloth, paper plates, or newspaper, on your preferred work surface.
- Clean your pinecone.
- Foraged pinecone – Remove any loose debris or scales caught in the pinecone.
- Store-bought pinecone – Rinse under warm water and let dry.
- Cut the string. We recommend 7-9 inches long.
- Wrap the string around the top of the pinecone multiple times and tie it off in a loop. You can also wait to tie off your loop in case it will hang around a specific object such as a small tree branch.
- Taking your popsicle stick or butter knife, spread a generous amount of peanut butter (or other source of fat) between each of the pinecone’s scale layers.
- Dip, roll, or pat your pinecone in birdseed. Make sure to stuff your pinecone full with as much birdseed as possible! If your birdseed is falling off, add more peanut butter (or alternative) to make it stick.
- Choose a spot to hang your new pinecone birdfeeder outside!
Take in Holiday Lights with an Evening Stroll at Powell Gardens
Featuring Evergy Festival of Lights throughout November and December, a visit to Powell Gardens is the best way to close out the year and ring in the new! The 2023 display features brand-new elements such as:
- Crystal Chambers by Quixotic Enter the Conservatory at Powell Gardens’ Evergy Festival of Lights to be fully immersed in a realm where the gleam and glitter of winter converges under the soft glow of the Northern Lights. Fridays and Saturdays (November 24-December 23) feature pop-up performances, which will take place between 6-9 p.m.
- Neon Magic Tree features an all-new neon light installation at the Royal Purple Smoketree (Continus) in the Visitor Center Tram Circle. A perfectly unique, holiday card stop!
- Favorite Photo Stops allows visitors to Step into a world of winter scenes, perfect for your family’s holiday card! Don’t miss the snowflake arch in the Conifer Garden, vintage holiday ornament at the Millstone, or the lighted butterfly just beyond the Peppermint Warming Station
- Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel Concert Series provides visitors with an opportunity to share in the magic of the holiday season’s music. Featuring Forrest McCurren (Dec. 2, 6-7 p.m.), St. Paul Ringers (Dec. 16, 6-7 p.m.), and The Eboni Fondren Quartet (Dec. 23, 6-7 p.m.).
- Holiday Grazing Board for Two package includes a grazing board (options below), four drinks, and admission to Evergy Festival of Lights. Packages must be purchased in advance.
- Santa’s Workshop (Nov. 24-Dec. 23, Friday-Saturday, 5-9 p.m.) featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will join Santa for special story times, crafts, and cookie decorating! Don’t miss a special holiday train and railroad display from the MO-KAN Garden Railroaders.
Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden, is the perfect addition to the holidays! From holiday-card worthy locations to festive traditions for the whole family, there’s plenty in store at Evergy Festival of Lights. Don’t forget to stock up on your favorite local gifts in The Marketplace, perfect for everyone on your holiday gift list, and sip delicious hot chocolate before, during, and after your lighted walk.
Put Powell Gardens’ Top Three Recommendations for Cold Weather Activities Into Action
Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden, encourages all our visitors and potential visitors to share in the magic of nature this holiday season! Whether exploring your own backyard for the perfect pinecone birdfeeder location, creating an insect winter habitat, or exploring a winter wonderland at Evergy Festival of Lights, there are plenty of ways to engage with nature as the year comes to a close.