Powell Gardens' 18th annual Festival of Butterflies takes flight Friday, Aug. 1, with an emphasis on conservation of the magical monarch butterfly. The festival includes indoor and outdoor butterfly exhibits featuring both exotic and native species, educational activities and the Gardens Gone Wild sculpture exhibit. Festival activities take place Aug. 1-3 and Aug. 8-10 at the botanical garden, which is located 30 miles east of Kansas City on U.S. Highway 50.
Indoor Butterfly Conservatory
During the festival an indoor conservatory becomes a tropical butterfly house, where visitors encounter exotic species ranging from the world's largest moth, the Atlas, to the magical Blue Morpho of Costa Rica and other intriguing butterflies such as the Costa Rica Clearwing with see-through wings. The Sunset Moth, often considered the most beautiful in the world, made its debut at Powell Gardens in 2013 and should be back for this year’s exhibit.
Outdoor Butterfly Exhibits
Visitors will learn how to support butterflies and moths native to the Kansas City region in two outdoor exhibits. The Butterfly Breezeway showcases native species and the Monarch Watch/Master Gardener displays teach visitors how to garden with butterflies in mind and how to support monarchs during their migration to Mexico.
Join the ‘Save the Monarchs’ movement
With monarch populations at record lows, the educational theme of the 2014 festival focuses on how people can support this species. Kansas University’s Monarch Watch will share a multitude of resources, and visitors will learn how growing specific plants can help.
The star plant in the “save the monarchs” movement is milkweed—the only host plant for this species. Planting native and/or tropical species of milkweed, plus other favorite nectar sources such as sterile varieties of butterfly bush, in home gardens is one way visitors can support monarch butterflies and other beneficial insects.are host plants and also provide nectar for the adult butterflies.
Where the Magic Begins: All About Caterpillars
Visitors get a firsthand look at the entire life cycle of butterflies with several caterpillar-related activities. Indoors, the 'Cat' Room has a large display of live caterpillars staffed by local butterfly enthusiasts. A Caterpillar Petting Zoo in the Master Gardener's exhibit outdoors offers children a chance to get hands-on. And a Caterpillar Scavenger Hunt will help visitors connect caterpillars with the host plants they need to survive.
Fun for Kids
Children's activities include story time with "Fancy Nancy" at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., plus a costume parade complete with a Chinese dragon-style caterpillar float at 11 a.m. each festival day. Outdoors, children can catch and release butterflies, hunt for caterpillars and make a craft. Indoor activities include "paint a pot" ($3), face painting ($2), butterfly wings ($3) and caterpillar headbands (free). Bring swimwear for splashing in the Fountain Garden, which is open throughout the festival, as is the Gardens Gone Wild sculpture exhibit featuring the works of Dan Ostermiller.
Evening Butterfly Events
Two evening events provide a more intimate way to experience the festival and the beauty of the gardens in twilight.
Family Night: An Evening with the Butterflies, 7-9 p.m. August 2
This event allows families to explore the "night life" at Powell Gardens, with a guided experience in the butterfly conservatory to see the Owl butterflies and moths that are active in the evening. Nature experts posted around the gardens will help interpret all of the sights and sounds of the garden at twilight. Indoors, participants will participate in a community art project. Tickets also include one free serving of Tadley's home-made ice cream! Reservations are required: www.powellgardens.org/ButterflyEvening or call 816-697-2600 x209.
An Evening Escape: Mojitos, Monarchs & More, 7-10 p.m. August 9
This event for ages 21 and older is a casual night of drinks, light bites and the chance to explore the exotic butterflies and moths that come to life in the evening hours. Tickets include one drink, light appetizers, a guided experience in the butterfly conservatory and access to the Gardens in the beauty of twilight. A cash bar will be available. Tickets are $30 or $25 for members. Reservations required: www.powellgardens.org/EveningEscape or call 816-697-2600 x209.
ALSO IN AUGUST
Garden Chef Series
See how culinary experts use fresh food grown in the Heartland Harvest Garden (with free samples while supplies last). Then sample what’s in season from the daily tasting station. Free with regular admission.
· 2 p.m. Aug. 3: Jasper Mirabile, chef/owner at Jasper’s Restaurant
· 2 p.m. Aug. 10: Charles d’Ablaing, executive chef at The Raphael Hotel