The Visitor Education Center is the heart of Powell Gardens, home to the Powell Gardens Conservatory and a centerpiece for the surrounding gardens. The world-class architecture of the Visitor Education Center, designed by E. Fay Jones, offers an inspirational setting for educational classes, events, receptions, on-site restaurant Cafe Thyme and Perennial Gifts, the Powell Gardens gift shop.
Visitor Education Center and Surrounding Gardens
The crown jewel of Powell Gardens’ Visitor Education Center is the conservatory where you can be inspired by plants at a comfortable temperature during every season. The conservatory changes displays six times a year.
At the beginning of the year it provides a comfortable place to observe the beautiful the winter landscape outside while ensconced in the beauty and fragrance of seasonal flowers including paper whites, cyclamen, stocks, cinerarias and primroses.
Early spring brings a change to publicly display our extensive collection of orchids and give a preview of springtime’s glory. Classic tropical plants set the display in May until midsummer. The Conservatory is transformed into a butterfly paradise for our annual Festival of Butterflies in August.
Fall brings a theme of foliage and autumn flowers like salvia and chrysanthemums while the holiday season is a poinsettia lover’s dream.
The gardens surrounding the Visitor Education Center display the most up-to-date annuals and tropical plants. The colorful beds showcase the beauty of plants like a painting, using flowers and foliage as paint.
Each bed changes three times a year: spring planting begins around March 15 but is not fully installed until April 15; summer favorites appear in mid- to late May; and fall favorites shine in September and October. The spring and fall gardens include flowers that are frost and cold tolerant while the summer displays show plants that thrive in our heat and humidity!
These dramatic beds are never the same and always are embellished with some of the finest container plantings anywhere.
Sandstone rubble and subsoil excavated for the construction of the Fountain Garden provided the perfect mix for conifers that like well-drained soil. We used this “waste” to create raised beds for an extensive collection of specialty and dwarf conifers. Marvin Snyder, a local gardener and past president of the American Conifer Society, donated this special collection.
Almost immediately the conifers settled into their new home. The garden is a certified Reference Garden by the American Conifer Society and offers visitors beautiful foliage textures and colors in all seasons.
It ties in well with the evergreen theme around the Visitor Education Center and inspires gardeners to consider these unique plants as an alternate to the ubiquitous sheared foundation yews and junipers so often planted around homes in Greater Kansas City.
Almost all the hardy Genera of conifers from around the world are represented including firs, plum-yews, falsecypresses, China-fir, ginkgo, junipers, spruces, pines, arborvitae, Doug-firs, baldcypresses, yews and hemlocks.
The Visitor Center East Landscape lies below the Visitor Center and sweeps down towards the gardens’ centerpiece lake. It’s a pastoral landscape with a mix of lawn and groves of the site’s original native trees. Naturalistic beds of small understory trees, shrubs and flowers connect the groves of trees and provide a healthy landscape for the trees’ roots and a more beautiful landscape for the visitor. Two walks (that meet accessibility standards) transverse this landscape, connecting the Visitor Center with the Island Garden. The Dogwood Walk was built first and is the concrete path from the south side of the Visitor Center to the Island Garden. It displays flowering trees with an attempt to display taxa of dogwoods (Cornus spp.) adaptable to our region.
The Magnolia Walk leads from the north side of the Visitor Center to the Island Garden. It also displays flowering trees with a focus to show taxa of magnolia (Magnolia spp.) appropriate for our region.
What’s in Bloom?
We are closed during this time.
We are closed during this time.
the spring exhibit will be on display in the conservatory. Early spring bulbs are just beginning to bloom in the surrounding gardens.
More spring bulbs begin blooming during this month. Spring annuals come alive in the garden beds and spring conservatory display. A few spring Ephemerals, like Meadow Rue, will begin blooming. The beginning of flowering Dogwoods, Magnolias, and Redbuds takes place during this month.
Spring annuals transition to summer annuals in the garden beds. Flowering Dogwoods, Magnolias, and other flowering shrubs steal the show during this month. A new summer conservatory is on display.
Summer conservatory exhibit stays on display throughout this month. Summer annuals are starting to fill out and flower. Hummingbirds are fluttering around, checking out all the flowers.
The Butterfly Festival beings late July. Summer annuals really start flowering. Butterflies bein arriving in larger numbers. Hummingbirds are nectaring on the summer flowers.
Sadly, the Butterfly Festival comes to an end during the month of August. Come visit before the butterflies are gone! Summer annuals are still in the garden beds, with lots of butterflies and hummingbirds.
A fall conservatory display will go in. The garden beds will transition from summer to fall, featuring flowering annuals and Mums.
Fall annuals and Mums continue to grace us with their presence. The conservatory will be updated with a fall display. The Glow Festival will be in full swing.
The fall conservatory will transition to a holiday display, featuring hundred of Poinsettias. The Festival of Lights will begin.
The Poinsettia display and the Festival of Lights continue to delight everyone who visits.