Powell Gardens Visitor Center

Visit the Gardens

About the Visitor Center

The Visitor Center is Powell Gardens’ central hub. It is surrounded by a beautiful landscape featuring annual terrace beds, beautiful walks, and a large expanse of green space. 

The Visitor Center is located at the heart of Powell Gardens’ 970 acres and is home to the Powell Gardens Conservatory which offers seasonal rotating installations and serves as the centerpiece for the surrounding gardens. Designed by architect E. Fay Jones, the Visitor Center offers an inspirational setting for educational classes, events, wedding receptions, and The Marketplace, the garden gift shop.

The Conservatory

The crown jewel of Powell Gardens’ Visitor Center, the glass-domed conservatory, offers a climate-controlled setting to be inspired by a variety of plants and offers rotating displays in support of seasonal events.

Hummingbird Garden

Just off the main path that leads to the Dogwood Walk is the Hummingbird Garden, where bird watchers can catch the quick actions of hummingbirds darting to all their favorite nectar sources.

Along with nectar feeders, gardeners have planted azalea, honeysuckle, giant anise hyssop, pentas, lantana, and others that provide nectar-rich blossoms for the hummingbirds to feed. Bees and butterflies enjoy this area too, and often in the spring Orioles can be found in the garden feeding as they journey northward for summer.

The Terrace Gardens

The gardens surrounding the Visitor Center display a variety of annuals, perennials, and tropical plants. A recent garden sustainability initiative was implemented and promotes the use of native plant species and cultivars.

These plantings will allow visitors to see how to integrate native species and cultivars into their own landscapes, which will allow for water conservation and native habitats for area pollinators.

The Terrace Gardens

Annual bed designs change three times a year. Spring installation begins in mid-March and is fully installed mid-April. Summer favorites appear in mid- to late-May and focus on plants that thrive in Missouri heat. Fall plantings shine in September and October and, similar to spring installations, include flowers that are frost and cold-tolerant.

The Terrace Gardens

Located on the northeast side of the Conservatory is Sharing, a 2017 powder coated steel sculpture designed by artist Robert Anderson.

This working kaleidoscope, generously donated by Dennis & Annette Young, features two rotating eyepieces focused on a center bowl installed with seasonal plantings and changing objects which ensures the same design is never seen twice.

Stumpery Garden

Adjacent to the Hummingbird Garden, this lovely spot just off the Visitor Center Terrace is replete with ferns, coral bells, lungwort, and other shade-loving perennials planted among stumps and logs. Visitors are welcome to enjoy lunch on the picnic table under the shade of the high tree canopy where the sights and sounds of nature can really be appreciated.

The Conifer Garden

Marvin Snyder, an avid gardener and past president of the American Conifer Society, donated a unique collection of specialty and dwarf conifers to be installed in the landscape directly adjacent to the Visitor Center’s east terrace.

Almost all hardy genera of conifers from around the world are represented including firs, plum-yews, false cypresses, ginkgo, junipers, spruces, pines, arborvitae, Doug-firs, bald cypresses, yews, and hemlocks. The sandstone rubble and subsoil excavated from the construction of the Fountain Garden was repurposed for this garden and provided the perfect base for well-draining soil preferred by conifers.

The Conifer Garden

This garden is a certified Reference Garden by the American Conifer Society and offers visitors beautiful foliage textures and colors in all season. It also encourages their use in home landscape as an alternative to the ubiquitous sheared foundation yews and junipers so often planted around homes in Greater Kansas City and the surrounding suburban areas.

Visitor Center Landscape

The Visitor Center Landscape is a pastoral space offering a mix of lawn and groves of the site’s original native trees. Naturalistic beds of small understory trees, shrubs, and flowers connect these groves of trees and provide a healthy landscape for their roots and a more beautiful landscape for the visitor.

Two paved walks transverse this landscape, connecting the Visitor Center with the Island Garden. The champion smoke tree at the center of the trolley circle is transformed with colorful lights during Festival of Lights.

The Dogwood Walk

This shaded pathway winds south from the Visitor Center to the Marlese Lowe Gourley Island Garden. It displays flowering trees with an emphasis on dogwoods (Cornus spp.) adaptable to our region.

The Dennis & Annette Young Magnolia Walk

Powell Gardens’ magnolia collection named in honor of past Director of Horticulture, Alan Branhagen, is nationally recognized by the American Public Gardens Association, and certified by the North American Plant Collections Consortium (NAPCC).

The Magnolia Walk features many of the collection including cultivars such as ‘Holland Rose,’ ‘Simple Pleasures,’ and ‘Emma Cook.’ And species/varieties such as Magnolia kobus var. borealis, Magnolia tripetala, and Magnolia x soulangeana (Saucer magnolias) ‘Amabilis,’’Grace Mcdade,’ and ‘Alexandrina.’

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