Looking for an inspiring public garden? Ready to spend the afternoon walking in nature? We’ve compiled a few places to consider. The information provided here is basic. Before you visit, check their web sites or give them a call for all the details about hours and admission.
Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center
Discover 10 acres of gardens, wetlands, walkways and wildlife that surround the Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center building, located near the banks of Brush Creek at Troost in Kauffman Legacy Park, about eight blocks from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and within 10 minutes of the Country Club Plaza. The Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center provides a unique educational experience as well as a quiet place of reflection for residents and visitors alike to enjoy and appreciate nature’s offerings.
Address: 4750 Troost Ave., Kansas City, MO 64110
Beanstalk Children’s Garden
Children will have the opportunity to learn about: Plants, Food Production, Insects, Nutrition and Plant Science. Visitors to the BEANSTALK are encouraged to use their senses to see, touch, smell and taste plants as part of the learning process. All plants are labeled with names and background information. The garden paths are paved and are fully wheelchair accessible. A unique and fun fieldtrip destination for children of all ages.
Address: Kansas City Community Gardens, 6917 Kensington, Kansas City, MO 64132
Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center
Come for the bird watching, or to walk the diverse hiking trails. Located in Blue Springs, Missouri, one mile north of I-70 and one mile west of MO 7 on Park Road. Six trails, 1,071 wooded acres, two picnic areas, indoor wildlife viewing area, 3,000 gallon native fish and turtle aquarium, hands-on nature exhibits, gift shop, and sales of fishing and hunting permits.
Address: 1401 NW Park Road, Blue Springs, MO 64015
Burroughs Audubon Nature Center and Bird Sanctuary
Operated by the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the National Audubon Society, center features two observation rooms and a library. Offering bird and wildlife viewing, free Wi-Fi access, nature photography, prairie plants and wildflowers, extensive nature library, bird seed and feeder sales, and more. The Library is open 5 days a week 1-5pm. Closed on Monday and Tuesday. Please note: 100% reliant on volunteers. Hours sometimes vary. Call before making a trip.
Address: Located in Fleming Park at Lake Jacomo, 7300 SW West Park Rd., Blue Springs, MO 64015
Heartland Harvest Garden
This is America’s largest edible landscape—where every tree, shrub, flower and groundcover is part of the story of where our food comes from. Here in the Heartland of America, this signature garden captures the spirit of Kansas City’s place where our rich soils and prime farmland make agriculture a shining star. From seed to plate, the Heartland Harvest Garden is an adventure in learning in a garden designed to satisfy all the senses. As you explore the fruits and vegetables, grains and nuts and so much more you may often find yourself saying, “Oh that’s the plant where that (food) comes from!” You will see a wide range of edible varieties from heirloom and modern to even some plants on trial for the future.
Address: Powell Gardens, 1609 NW US Hwy 50, Kingsville, MO 64061
Jacob L. Loose Memorial Park
The elegance of the park stems from the famous Laura Conyers Smith Municipal Rose Garden (built in 1939) and the classical walkway that leads to it. As spring arrives, more than 4,000 roses — in 125 varieties — burst to life in the circular garden courtyard. Fountains, statues, large verandas and pathways make this one of the most romantic spots in the city. The rose garden is a popular place for weddings and receptions. Southeast of the rose garden, a pond sits at the edge of the park. Benches, bridges and small nooks allow for a restful stop. Exercise is easy to find, with a jogging and walking path encircling the entire park. Tennis courts can be found west of the rose garden. The gently rolling hills that make up the large grassy middle are perfect for flying kites, playing catch, walking the dog or just relaxing under a tree. The Stanley R. McLane Arboretum, in Loose Park, was founded in 1972 by Stanley R. McLane the landscape supervisor for J.C. Nichols Company. The arboretum has over 4,000 trees with new additions being added yearly. There are tree walks with maps and labels identifying trees. The Maps are available at the Garden Center.
Address: 51st and Wornall, Kansas City, MO 64112
Kauffman Memorial Garden
This 2-acre garden is part of the Kauffman Legacy Park in the heart of Kansas City. Powell Gardens, in partnership with the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, manages and maintains the garden. Hours 8 a.m. to dusk. Admission is free.
Address: 4800 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110
Kemper Outdoor Education Center
Step into a world of adventure. Explore our woodlands, wetlands, arboretum, garden pond, butterfly gardens and much more. Listen to the birds singing, leaves rustling in the wind, turkeys gobbling and grogs chirping. Joyfully learn about our native wildlife. Come see, smell and touch nature in this beautiful enhanced environment located in Fleming Park.
Address: 8201 Jasper Bell Rd., Blue Springs, MO 64015
Linda Hall Library Arboretum
The 14 acres surrounding the Library are home to 348 trees representing some 52 genera and 147 species. Beds of viburnum and tree peonies embellish the grounds and provide additional interest while contributing to the park-like setting. The property is managed as an urban arboretum. To the casual visitor, the grounds can offer a quiet respite. For the more curious visitor, the Library provides guided tours of the Arboretum by appointment only.
Phone: Contact Eric Ward at 816.926.8753 to schedule an appointment.
Address: 5109 Cherry Street, Kansas City, MO 64110-2498
Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary
Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary began with a dream to provide a natural area that would be the home to a great diversity of native plants and animals…where people of all ages could enjoy and learn about the natural world. Today, the dedicated staff and volunteers continue that effort through engaging, hands-on programs and thoughtful land management. As the only fully functional nature center in the Northland, Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary provides Liberty and the surrounding communities with diverse opportunities to learn about the natural world.
Address: 407 N. La Frenz Rd., Liberty, MO 64068
Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden
From North America’s longest “living” wall on the Island Garden to the nation’s largest edible landscape in the Heartland Harvest Garden, you’ll find beauty in every season. Take a preview tour of each of our major gardens or explore special exhibitions to see what captures your interest. A year-round schedule of programs, classes and special exhibits means there’s something to do every time you visit! Some of our visitors’ favorite events include Booms & Blooms, the Festival of Butterflies and our major summer exhibits. Gardeners flock to the Spring Plant Sale, lifelong learners enjoy our adult education offerings and friends of all ages enjoy simply immersing themselves in the Gardens’ peacefulness any time of year. See our Calendar of Events to find out what’s happening on any given day.
Address: Powell Gardens, 1609 NW US Hwy 50, Kingsville, MO 64061
The Baker Wetlands consists of 573 acres located on the south side of Lawrence, and is one of the most diverse habitats in Douglas County. It is the home to many birds, flowers, plants and insects. The area is open to the public during daylight hours. More than six miles of trails available for walking, biking or jogging.
Address: 1365 N. 1250 Rd., Lawrence, KS 66046. See the web site for specific entrances and parking.
Demonstration Gardens, Johnson County K-State Research and Extension
The purpose of the Garden Gallery demonstration garden is to display a diverse palette of plants for the home landscape that demonstrates:
• the tried-and-true as well as the new
• environmentally responsible practices
• varieties suitable for local growing conditions
• broader horizons to please the senses throughout the year
Address: 11811 S. Sunset Dr., Olathe, KS 66061
Hoot Owl Hill: Certified Butterfly and Pollinator Gardens
Located in rural Paola, Hoot Owl Hill is a 14-acre property certified as a butterfly habitat by NABA (North American Butterfly Association). The gardens are also certified as a Monarch Waystation, a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and as a Pollinator Garden by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. The Hill, as owners Brenda and Steve Wrischnik refer to it, offers up several types and styles of gardens to experience; raised bed vegetable gardens, 116 blueberry bushes, an espaliered fruit tree garden, 2 vineyards, many perennial and annual flowering gardens, and a natural wildflower meadow. The planting areas have been designed with bees and butterflies in mind. By appointment only. Garden clubs welcome.
Address: Paola, Kansas
Kansas State Horticulture Research Center
Under the direction of Dr. Alan Stevens, this facility is a regional resource of field trials of vegetables, turf and flowers. The research gathered is beneficial to the home gardener when deciding which plants to purchase for their landscape. Open from 8-4 M-F. Not set up to visit individually, but feel free to browse on your own. Every plant is labeled. The best time of year to come see the flowers is July and August. Please check in with someone first, as gates are locked at the end of the day. If you want to visit the Research Center when experts are on hand to give walk-and-talk tours of all the ongoing research, there is an Open House held the last Saturday of July. Visit the Johnson County Extension website for more details on the schedule closer to the date.
Address: 35230 W. 135th St., Olathe, KS 66061
Long Lips Farm: Certified Butterfly and Pollinator Gardens
Located in rural Paola, the 2-acre garden is certified as a butterfly habitat by NABA (North American Butterfly Association). The garden is also certified as Monarch Waystation #875, a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and as a Pollinator Garden by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Long Lips Farm illustrates that the goals of beauty and wildlife habitat are not mutually exclusive. The English Estate landscape style uses flowing curves and masses of plant material to create a painterly effect. Superimposed on this classic design, are the specific plants that butterfly caterpillars need to survive. Owner Lenora Larson is a Miami County Master Gardener and member of local chapters of both the Idalia Butterfly Society and Kansas Native Plant Society. No admission, by appointment only. Gardening groups welcome.
Address: Paola, Kansas
Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
The 300-acre Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens was founded to keep the city at the forefront of environmental and ecological issues. A leader of environmentally sound community development, the Arboretum is an educational, recreational and cultural resource for the Kansas City region. It offers homeowners, landscapers and arborists an opportunity to view and evaluate a wide variety of hybrid trees and shrubs, native to this area. About 85 percent of the property in southern Overland Park is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of eight natural ecosystems. The remaining portion includes traditional botanical gardens, trails, the Visitors Center and maintenance facilities.
Address: 8909 W. 179 Street, Overland Park, KS 66013
Olathe Prairie Center
The Prairie Center is a 300-acre tallgrass preserve and education site with trails winding through remnant and reestablished prairie and riparian woodlands. Most of the eight ponds on the property serve as intermittent wetlands for wildlife. There is a small lake for fishing and water studies. A bedrock creek provides exploration of aquatic life as well as a look back in time through the fossil remains embedded in the limestone creek bed. Many of the native prairies, which once blanketed North America, have disappeared. At the Prairie Center you will see, in mid-summer, native grasses taller than your living room ceiling. The primary goal of the Prairie Center is to serve as a preserve for local flora and fauna. There are no public buildings, and public access is restricted to trails and a few gathering areas. No horses, bicycles or motorized vehicles are allowed, and dogs must be on a leash. Pit toilets are available. The Prairie Center is open to the public from dawn to dusk seven days a week for trail walking or for fishing in the lake.
Address: 26235 West 135th St., Olathe, KS