The Heartland Harvest Garden
Welcome to America’s largest edible landscape—where every tree, shrub, flower and groundcover is part of the story of where our food comes from. Here in the Heartland of America, this signature garden captures the spirit of Kansas City’s place where our rich soils and prime farmland make agriculture a shining star.
The Journey of Food from Seed to Plate
From seed to plate, the Heartland Harvest Garden is an adventure in learning in a garden designed to satisfy all the senses. As you explore the fruits and vegetables, grains and nuts and so much more you may often find yourself saying, “Oh that’s the plant where that (food) comes from!”
You will see a wide range of edible varieties from heirloom and modern to even some plants on trial for the future. Don’t forget to taste a sample of the garden’s produce at the Tasting Station. A visit to the Missouri Barn’s silo observation deck is a must, where you can overlook the whole garden and see its quilt patterns.
Heartland Harvest Garden Highlights
The Entrance to the Heartland Harvest Garden features a delightful Millstone Fountain as the centerpiece. This garden’s blue and gold color scheme showcases both flowers and fruit, ranging from the intense fragrance of the clove currant’s yellow blooms in spring to blue plums and yellow pawpaws and flowering-quince fruit in fall.
The Menu Garden is surrounded by a wattled fence of willows and dogwood and is comprised of four formal beds are rotated three times a year and filled with seasonal vegetables and other edible plants.
The main walk into the Heartland Harvest Garden passes right through the Seed to Plate Greenhouse. Housed in this area are seeds that have been sown and grown for transplanting into the garden. These greenhouses provide a jump start on production for some tender or slow-growing varieties and makes it easier to monitor small seedlings.
Follow the spiraling brick road to discover 50 of the most disease-resistant and flavorful apples for our region. Full-size standard apple trees ring this garden’s outer edge. You’ll find apples for all uses: from early-summer baking apples like ‘Lodi’ to fresh-eating favorites like ‘Gala’ and ‘Fuji’ and storage selections such as ‘Granny Smith.’ You’ll also find many new varieties you won’t see in grocery stores like ‘Arkansas Black,’ ‘Candycrisp,’ ‘Goldrush’ and ‘Redfree.’
Colorful plants like chives, anise hyssop, lemon balm, strawberries and wild type roses complete the composition. These companions beautify the garden while inviting good bugs to help pollinate the apples and protect them from pests.
The brick path sweeping out from the Apple Celebration Court is lined with pear trees and their companion plants. The pears bloom in early spring with gorgeous white (but stinky) flowers.Here you will see the pears of the grocery store: ‘Bartlett,’ ‘Bosc’ and ‘D’Anjou,’ along with lesser known varieties. ‘Ubileen’ ripens earliest and ‘Kieffer’ produces here like no other.You’ll also find examples of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and American varieties of Asian pears, whose round, crisp fruit are fast gaining in popularity.
A tapestry of mints, mountain-mints and monarda (bergamots) add colorful flowers and attract a plethora of pollinators and beneficial insects. In fact, the mountain-mints here may be the very best plants in the garden for doing just that!
The pot of gold at the end of the journey along the brick road is the Peach Plaza. Peach Plaza dazzles in its riotous pink bloom in early spring and in mid- to late summer visitors drool over the trees draped in delectable, golden fruit. Full-sized standard peach trees ring the outer part of the garden, followed by semi-dwarf varieties as the beds get smaller.
Companion plants with unique foliage and flowers complete the garden’s composition. Look for masses of wild and domestic strawberries, borage, chamomile, dill and garlic chives.
Arbors of grapes lined by roses and thorn-less blackberries lead you to the ornate entrance gates of the vineyard. A central walk bisects rows of grapes, ending at a wine cask fountain set under a beautiful rose and grape-clad arbor reminiscent of a garden in paradise.
Grapes for Every Purpose
Powell Gardens’ vineyard is not here to make wine but to display the marvelous diversity of grapes one can grow in Greater Kansas City. Each row has a different theme, beginning with purple, multi-use seeded grapes used for making jams, jellies and juice.
The last row shows the grape varieties used to make white wines in our region. Fifty of the best varieties of grapes for our region are on display and each row ends with a hybrid tea rose, which not only adds beauty and edible flowers to the landscape but also act as the “canaries in the mineshaft” to foretell any problems that may affect the grapes.
Hyssop is planted beneath each row as a companion plant and adds to the charm with blue flowers in June and again later in the summer. Other companion plants include roses, lavender, chrysanthemums, blackberries, hazelnuts and redbuds.
Celebrated garden authors Rosalind Creasy and Barbara Damrosch bring their great ideas to life in gardens that demonstrate their personal philosophies.
Rosalind Creasy: An Edible Landscaping Pioneer
The term “edible landscaping” often is credited to Creasy, an award-winning garden writer. Her “The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping” was published back in 1982. Since then, she has written a 10-book series on edible gardening and most recently, “Recipes from the Garden,” published in 2008, and an update to her original in 2011.
In her design for the Authors’ Garden, Creasy uses recycled materials to demonstrate a point: Fruits and vegetables can be grown in a beautiful way as part of a traditional home landscape.
“There’s an unwritten rule in this country that edible plants should not be grown in the front yard,” Creasy said. “I say bring them forward!”
Barbara Damrosch: An Authoritative Voice
Barbara Damrosch, author of “The Garden Primer” and “Theme Gardens,” has designed an intensely planted garden that illustrates the quantity and variety of fresh produce one can grow for a typical family right here in the Kansas City area.
“I wanted to show ways in which a family could make the most of the space they have for a food garden,” Damrosch said. “Crops are closely planted, and when one comes out, another one goes in. Vertical growing saves space, too. Plant families are grouped together for a simple crop rotation. And devices for season extension make home food production a year-round activity, even when winters are cold.”
Damrosch’s garden also illustrates just how visually pleasing a kitchen garden can be: “A well-maintained kitchen garden can be as beautiful as a yard filled with flowers.”
The four quilt gardens are the grand centerpiece of the Heartland Harvest Garden, their design a play off the patchwork of Midwestern fields. Where the four gardens come together there is a fine arbor draped in akebia vines and sheltered with sweet shoot bamboos—a wonderful spot to sit and enjoy this grand place.
Old Missouri Crops
In this garden you see the major crops of the Midwest, beginning with the greenery of winter wheat, followed in spring by oats, rye and barley and summer with sunflowers, soybeans and corn.
Missouri Star Orchard
This garden provides backyard-sized spaces anchored by four arbors. You’ll see how to grow everything from classic to unique fruits.
Kansas Star Forage Crops
The rich rangelands and pastures of Kansas are brought down to size in this garden so you can see the grasses and legumes used for cattle forage. Although not technically edible, these plants are a critical part of the food chain for everyone who drinks milk or eats beef!
Chateau Villandry outside Paris inspired this formal garden with a different pattern in each quadrant. Here vegetables and other edibles are planted three times each year for spring, summer and autumn harvest. The themes change annually so you will always see something different from year to year.
The Missouri Barn was designed by architect Maurice Jennings as a contemporary and organic play off local barns—the icons of our Midwestern landscape.
The barn’s silo is an observation deck (accessible by elevator or an easy spiral staircase) where you can look out over the garden and see its beautiful patchwork quilt designs.
The barn offers a shady respite where you can sit and relax, have a snack at reFresh (open seasonally), attend a multi-course Barn Dinner, or watch a cooking demonstrations. The trolley service picks up behind the barn and returns to the Visitor Education Center and other Gardens.
A magical spot within the Heartland Harvest Garden designed with children in mind!
Water Conservation Courtyard
Learn how the water cycle works and pick up tips on conserving this precious resource.
Worm Dig and Hoop House
Don’t miss the Worm Dig, where you can search for earthworms working hard to enrich our garden soil.
Good Bug, Bad Bug
Beneficial insects are valuable workers in the garden. Pause for a game of “Good Bug, Bad Bug” hopscotch and climb on our oversize sculptures of favorite “good bugs” like the praying mantis.
Mr. McGregor’s Garden
Snap beans, lettuce and chamomile entice the senses. You may even spot Peter Rabbit or one of his furry cousins in the garden. Stop in Mr. McGregor’s colorful shed and revisit the story of this hungry bunny.
Fun Foods & Extraordinary Vegetables
Round out your journey in the Fun Foods & Extraordinary Vegetables Garden, where you can learn where favorite treats like chocolate, cola and root beer come from.