The Perennial Garden
The Perennial Garden offers more than 1,200 varieties of plants that return year after year.
This 3.5-acre landscape is designed as a series of “rooms” separated by trees and shrubs rather than walls. Perennials, which die back to the ground each winter but return from the roots in spring, show best with the structural elements of trees and shrubs around them.
Perennials may live year to year but their bloom time is usually shorter than garden annuals—about two weeks on average. This garden is designed to bloom in sequence from spring to fall, always providing colorful flowers in each garden bed.
Perennial Garden Highlights
This pathway features plants for sunny areas including baptisia, iris, little bluestem, peonies, and sedum.
Along the side of our 12-acre lake with a view of the Marlese Lowe Gourley Island Garden, the Arbor Gardens provide the perfect setting for small, intimate weddings or gatherings. Wisteria covers the arbor and fills the garden with its sweet fragrance in the spring. White summer flowering hydrangeas are planted along the paved pathway leading to the arbor. Look for a new mulched pathway within the garden to explore perennials that thrive in the shade of a blackgum tree.
This butterfly garden attracts pollinators from spring through fall while providing nesting places in the winter. Enjoy the activity of the butterflies visiting the garden while resting on a bench under the summer flowering Japanese Pagoda Tree (Sophora japonica). Look for butterfly habitat plants including aster, butterfly bush, caryopteris, garden mum, Joe pye weed, lilac, monarda, rudbeckia, sedum, viburnum, weigela, and yarrow.
Along a winding paved pathway leading to the arbor, are the Mixed Perennial Border and Gardens. With a backdrop of the popular Powell Gardens’ mixed evergreen hedge, summer perennials include Powell Gardens’ extensive daylily collection. Follow the pathway through a serene setting featuring the bear sculpture that quickly gives way to the updated perennial border.
This area is home to a carefree planting of heirloom favorites with a quaint wooden cottage as a centerpiece.
This pathway leads visitors through the low-maintenance perennial beds offering attractive plants which require little care.
The Woodland Garden provides year-round interest with epimedium, helleborus, and winterberries. Look for groundcover ideas for your home garden and colorful foliage plants perfect for shady spots.
A must-see in the spring, visitors to the native shade garden enjoy the delicate flowers of bloodroot and Virginia bluebells (native ephemerals), flowering dogwood trees, witchhazel, red buckeyes, and bottlebrush buckeye. New plantings include ‘Blue Moon’ woodland phlox and Spigelia marilandica (indian pink).
The New Millennium Border showcases the best of the best for Midwest gardens. Learn about plants featuring genetics that provide a longer season of flowering, attractive foliage, and disease resistance.
Get up close and explore the plants of the Byron and Rosemary Banta Sensory Garden. Look at the colors, feel the different textures, and smell the fragrant flowers and foliage. Listen for the many songs of the birds nesting in the area and for the rustling of leaves and branches. A bubbler brings water into the garden giving songbirds and pollinators a place to bathe and drink.
This area is undergoing renovations through 2021.
In the heat of summer, Susan Lordi Marker Native Plant Garden comes to life. Look for prairie grasses and forbes including little bluestem, coneflower, milkweed, prairie dropseed, and rudbeckia attracting pollinators and songbirds.
Think you can’t grow a banana tree in Missouri? Visit our Tender Perennial Garden to see many plantings that aren’t supposed to live in our gardens. Updated in 2018, learn about tropical looking, tender perennials you can grow in the right setting at home including ‘Lucifer’ Crocosmia.
Leave the paved pathway by the Butterfly Garden and explore the edge of the lake. Under the canopy of bald cypress, look for their knees popping up along the shore. Find the secret woodland trail along the water’s edge and cross the stream by hopping over a rock or two for a close-up view of the woodland plantings.
What’s in Bloom?
Daffodils steal the show during the month of March as wisteria, dogwoods, and magnolias start to bloom not far behind. Visit the shade and woodland gardens to see arum and bloodroot in bloom. Peonies, baptisia, and iris put on quite a show for us during the month of May.
June brings the summer flowering perennials including fragrant garden phlox, catmint, salvia, spiderwort, and yarrow. Visit our shade gardens to learn about colorful foliage plants and ferns.
Daylilies begin to show themselves throughout the month of July. You won’t want to miss their beautiful colors in our extensive collection. Stop by the butterfly garden and prairie to look for pollinators as the beautiful prairie plants, coneflower, milkweed and rudbeckia are in bloom throughout the month of August.
Asters and mums make an appearance throughout September. The fall color of the Blackgum begins to show. Asters, mums, and ornamental grasses begin to sprout all throughout the month of October.The seedheads of ornamental grasses and perennials give late fall and winter interest in the garden.
Contorted witchhazel begins blooming in January and continues to show itself into the month of February. Winterberries add bright pops of red to the David T. Beals III Woodland Garden. Winter flowering helleborus brings promise of spring to the gardens.