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Fall Foliage & Events

Fall provides colorful changes and a time to reflect the changing season. Use this guide to experience seasonal fall highlights in the Gardens. Peak times will vary depending on weather.

Top Five Fall Views

Seek out these scenic spots to experience the beauty of fall.

SCENIC SPOT: Missouri Barn Silo
LOCATION: The Heartland Harvest Garden
Climb the stairs to take in a birds-eye view of distant fall-color treetops and the bountiful Villandry Garden.

SCENIC SPOT: The Visitor Center Terrace
LOCATION: The Visitor Center
The beds and containers around the Visitor Center feature many colorful fall displays. Enjoy a variety of mums in many colors and sizes.

LOCATION: The Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel & Meadow Pavilion Landscapes
The meadow features grasses such as little and big bluestem that often change color with the occurrence of cooler weather. Look for interesting seed pods clinging to various prairie plants as they transition into fall.

SCENIC SPOT: The Pirate Ship
LOCATION: Small Island to the left of the Marlese Lowe Gourley Island Garden
Take the short woodchip path to the left before you cross the bridge to the Marlese Lowe Gourley Island Garden. Climb the tower on the Pirate Ship for a gorgeous 360 degree garden view.

SCENIC SPOT: Millstone Plaza
LOCATION: Upper Fountain Garden
The Fountain Garden features the finale fall display of the Fall Fling: Through the Looking Glass—a seasonal festival featuring elements from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Top Five Fall Showstoppers

Look for these showy fall display plants to experience bursts of color.

PLANTS: Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica)
LOCATION: Bob and Sally West Arbor Garden in The Perennial Garden
PEAK TIME: October
This native Missouri tree offers wonderful fall color in red hues.

PLANTS: Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
LOCATION: Cottage Garden in The Perennial Garden
PEAK TIME: November
A shrub native to Missouri, beautyberry showcases violet to magenta-colored fruits in the fall.

PLANTS: Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
LOCATION: Heartland Harvest Garden
PEAK TIME: mid-October to early-November
This tree provides spring flowers and summer fruit, but in the fall features orange/red/purple fall foliage.

PLANTS: June Snow Dogwood (Cornus controversa)
LOCATION: Visitor Center Tram Stop
PEAK TIME: September to November
This flowering tree showcases red and purple fall foliage followed by red branches in the winter.

PLANTS: Mums (Chrysanthemum)
LOCATION: Throughout the Gardens
PEAK TIME: September to October
View a wide variety of mums installed in throughout the Gardens. Follow the pathway through the Fall Fling: Through the Looking Glass festival for artful installations utilizing these fall favorites.

Trail Tales Exhibition
Sunday, September 1 – Thursday, October 31; 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Admission & Parking
Embark on a journey through the Gardens with Trail Tales, a literacy-in-nature project. Follow the children’s story Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move through the Perennial and David T. Beals III Woodland and Stream Garden, and enjoy interactive children’s activities that bring the story to life.

Fall Fling: Through the Looking Glass
Saturday, September 21-October 20, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission & Parking
Follow Alice down the rabbit hole and into the magical world of Wonderland where things are not always as they seem! Enjoy an artistic display of nearly 800 pumpkins and other fall botanical favorites, arranged to tell the story of Alice and her topsy turvy trip into Wonderland. Enjoy additional Garden activations, included with festival admission, on specific days.

Family Frolic: Hedge Apple Days
Saturday, September 28, noon-4 p.m.
Admission & Parking
In partnership with Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, this event features seed-themed scavenger hunts, nature games such as hedge apple bowling, and the iconic Hedge Apple Goblin art activity. Search for, collect, and play with the unique seeds and seed pods from Missouri’s native plants.

Missouri Barn Dinner: Chef Anourom Thomson
Sunday, September 29, 5-9 p.m.
(cocktail 5:00-5:30 p.m.) followed by 5:30 p.m. horticulturalist chat
6:00 p.m. Dinner is served buffet style)
Powell Gardens’ “Global Flavors” chef-in-residence Anourom Thomson of Anousone’s Laotian cuisine is teaming up with Tyler Harp of Harp Barbecue, for one of the hottest East-Meets-Midwest barbecue tickets in Kansas City! Enjoy barbecue meats, grilled vegetables from the garden and steamed buns or sticky rice. You’ll also receive a welcome cocktail by Josh Rogers of Krokstrom Klubb featuring Laotian spirits and Asian-inspired sangria plus a special dessert. Please reserve your spaces by September 26.

Cocktails and Constellations:
Friday, October 4, 8:30-10:30 p.m.
Rain Date is October 18
Join us for an evening of star gazing and grazing in the Gardens that features the expertise of Kansas City Skyentist Patrick Hess. This event features an exploration of the night sky with moon showers, planets, and a cocktail class by Till Vodka, a Kansas farm-to-cocktail purveyor, and Boozy Botanicals, a KC-based organic cocktail mixer featuring herbs, flowers and other herbal essences. A hearty snack platter by Vaughn Good of Fox and Pearl accompanies the beverages. Please reserve your space before September 30.

Reflections of Fall: Design Workshop
Saturday, October 5, 2-4 p.m.
Learn the art of decorating with gourds, pumpkins, and dried natural materials and get design inspiration for making gorgeous seasonal displays for your home from an expert. Participants will gather ideas and will make a fall seasonal container (made out of a pumpkin) to display indoors or out.

Drop-in Tour: The Beauty of Fall
Sunday, October 6, 2 p.m.
Admission & Parking
Join docent Bob Kendrick for a tour that explores the beauty in plants as they prepare for winter. Learn which varieties are show stoppers in the fall season. This seasonal tour will allow you to consider the end of the season in a whole new light. Meet in the Grand Hall. Free with garden admission.

Meet the Artists: Craig Auge & Lorie Kellogg
Sunday, October 6, 2-4 p.m.
Admission & Parking
Celebrate the exhibition Micro/Macro: Works by Craig Auge and Lorie Kellogg and investigate firsthand the unique processes and inspiration for their works. Refreshments provided. Free with garden admission.

SAGES: Forest Therapy Workshop
Friday, October 11, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Learn about the general principles and health and wellness benefits behind Shinrin-Yoku, or the Japanese practice of experiencing the forest and its health benefits. Commonly known as “forest bathing, ”this health practice has been growing since the 1980s in Japan and more recently in the U.S. This talk is presented by Michael Beezhold, Forest Therapy Guide in Training, as certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.

Nature Hike
Saturday, October 12, 1-4 p.m.
Admission & Parking
Spend some time discovering an often hidden aspect of Powell Gardens, the three-mile Byron C. Shutz Nature Trail that traverses acres of forest, remnant prairie, and pondscape. Learn about the history of the land, some spotlighted species along the trail and enjoy a seasonal fall hike.

Fall Fling – Beer Garden
October 12 & 13, 11:00am-4:00pm
Admission & Parking
Grab your drinking glass and revel in the whimsy of Wonderland, with live music and libations. Play croquet with flamingos, take on the challenge of chess and throw a game of corn hole! Beer, wine and themed cocktails available for purchase.

Family Frolic: Mad Scientist
October 19, noon-4 p.m.
Admission & Parking
Get in the Halloween spirit for this mad-science experience. Arrive in costume and embark on a spooky (but kid-friendly) journey through our gardens for an experience filled with explosions, potions, and eerie creatures. Kids will enjoy free garden-themed Halloween treats, a performance by Mad Science, and our mad scientist costume contest.

Dog’s Day Out
Sunday, October 20, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission & Parking
Join us for this special day allowing visitors to bring their furry friends for a stroll through designated areas of the Garden. Dogs must have current vaccinations and remain on a leash at all times. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pooch. Festival admission applies.

Reflections of the Season: Watercolor Workshop
Saturday, November 2, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Join artists Barbara Neth and Ellie Behrmann in making handmade cards inspired by nature and seasonal elements. Demonstration of various watercolor techniques will be provided as will all materials. Little or no previous experience is required. Each participant will take home new ideas and some finished original cards to reflect spring, summer, fall, and winter–perfect for holiday gift giving.

Drop-In Tour: Thanksgiving from the Garden
Sunday, November 3, 2-3 p.m.
This tour will explore edible aspects of Powell Gardens and provide inspiration for incorporating varied seeds, nuts, plants, and produce into your Thanksgiving (or any) dinner plan. Participants will join docent Nancy Shaw in varied parts of the garden to learn about edible nuts, edible flowers, and gather ideas for preserving and using them in cooking.

Sacred Spaces: Works by Sandy Leppin and Deanna Trapp
November 8, 2019-January 5, 2020
Join us for this exhibition featuring seasonal changes found in particular places and daily observations made of nature. Sandy Leppin’s black and white photographs describe the scenic and often dramatic elements of National Parks. Deanna Trapp’s watercolors reflect her changing views of the farmland, Missouri River bluffs, and valleys near her home. Both artists aspire to convey a quiet sense of beauty, power, and spirit found in varied landscapes. Included with garden admission

Botanical Aspects of Distilling Gin
Saturday, November 9, 1-3 p.m.
Do you how juniper and spruce and other botanicals are used to flavor gin? Have you ever wondered how gin is distilled and how long it takes from the fermentation process to the final distilled product? Join us for a behind-the scenes tour of Tom’s Town distilling, some hands-on interaction with different botanical scents and infused flavors gleaned from Powell Gardens, and hear about the process from start to finish to make a hand-crafted batch of gin. Small tastes are included in this experience. Must be 21 years of age or older to register. Deadline for registration is November 4.

After the Harvest: Canning/Storing/Preserving
Saturday, November 16, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Learn from Lead Horticulturist of the Heartland Harvest Garden, Haley Drake, on how to properly harvest and store fresh items such as potatoes, squash, onions, garlic, herbs, and apples to keep them for winter months. Get information from MU Extension Health and Nutritionists about the safe and proper way to can and join chef Michael Foust of Black Sheep + Market as he provides ideas on how to use all these pantry items to create delicious meals. Please register by November 11.