Prairie Style architecture highlights the grounds with structures designed by renowned American architect E. Fay Jones. A former student and one of the best-known disciples of Frank Lloyd Wright, he carried on Wright’s Prairie Style with principles of organic design. The work of Jones and his partner Maurice Jennings, who joined Jones’ firm in 1972, uses natural materials, wide expanses of glass that bring the outside in and lines that allow each building to blend into its surroundings.
Your first stop will be the Visitor Center, home of the Powell Gardens Conservatory which offers seasonal rotating installations and serves as the centerpiece for the surrounding gardens. The building and its furnishings are the work of Jones and Jennings and provides an inspirational setting for the Perennial Lounge, the garden gift shop, classes, and events. There are seven themed gardens for you to explore some enhanced by sculptures which are featured on the Art in the Gardens tour.
The David T. Beal III Woodland and Stream Garden is home to plants that thrive in the shade. Bridges above flowing streams offer views of the lush plantings. If peaceful respite is what you are craving, you can also view the plantings from secluded woodland seating.
The Fountain Garden is a nod to the City of Fountains, Kansas City. This summertime favorite features a 42-foot diameter interactive water feature housed in a multicolor floral motif granite basin. When activated, the fountain’s 56 spray heads create the impression of an opening flower and offer visitors a refreshing spray on hot summer days. Low walls surrounding the fountain provide seating and an overlook gives access to an aerial view of this summertime gem.
Children of all ages are invited to explore plants and nature in the two-acre, multisensory Children’s Garden. There are many opportunities for active engagement from a garden tool balance beam to planting your own garden. A climb up oversized chairs provides a great photo opportunity. A colorful maze features sound elements to compose music with rain sticks, a drum
set made from fallen trees, root talker, frog noise makers, and a piano. A water court and stream invites play and investigation of water loving plants; say hello to the resident goldfish in the water basin!
The Heartland Harvest Garden is America’s premier edible landscape. Every tree, shrub, flower, and groundcover is part of the story of Midwest agriculture. Seasonal display beds inspire home gardeners and chefs to discover new color, creativity, and plants with each visit. Four season food production is on display in the Seed to Plate Greenhouse and Potager Menu Garden.
The Marlese Lowe Gourley Island Garden is the summer jewel of Powell Gardens. Tiered pools in this water garden offer a diverse array of aquatic plants. Waterlilies, taro, umbrella palms and friendly goldfish fill the pools with texture, color, and movement. The lotus and waterlily collections have been designated as certified collections by the International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society. As you traverse the winding path through this area, you will encounter the Sunken Garden, a hidden space enclosed by stone walls and flower beds leading to a two-tiered lotus pool. Continue along the path to view water loving shrubs and perennials along the shoreline of a 12-acre lake.
The Memorial Garden is adjacent to the Marjorie Allen Chapel, a must see for your visit. The garden path meanders through native wildflowers, lofty oaks, and a small native prairie. A trickling fountain attracts birds and butterflies creating a site that is vibrant and full of life. Benches with views of the chapel and lake provide a peaceful space to rest and reflect.
The Perennial Garden is currently under renovation throughout 2022. The 3.5-acre landscape is designed as a series of “rooms” separated by trees and shrubs rather than walls.
Architecture at Powell Gardens is a celebration of the Midwestern landscape. In addition to the Visitor Center, architectural highlights include Allen Chapel, Meadow Pavilion and Missouri Barn. Each building was designed to enhance and blend seamlessly into the environment. The Marjorie Allen Chapel, a non-denominational chapel, was designed by E. Fay Jones. The structure features 13-foot entry doors and 2,550 square feet of glass allowing the building to blend into the surrounding prairie. Enjoy a sweeping panorama of the gardens and surrounding countryside from the Meadow Pavilion. The Missouri Barn is an open sided structure featuring a 45-foot silo with an observation deck for viewing the garden below. If you enjoy prairie style architecture, you will find a space at Powell Gardens to enjoy and inspire!
To embrace the beauty of the Midwest, we invite you to visit Powell Gardens during the Docent National Symposium. The featured exhibition Fall 2022 will be Fortopia. This playful exhibition taps into childhood memories of outdoor discovery and fort building. Eight forts will be on display for children and adults to explore and play. Admission applies.