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An Artist’s Look at Festival of Butterflies

When we think of beauty in nature, we may think of things like a late-summer sunset, the sound of a running brook or the opening of spring blooms. We may overlook what makes some of these marvels possible in the first place, which is a different beauty in and of itself. To continue enjoying the magnificence of flowers and blooms in our gardens, we rely on pollinators like butterflies. These fluttering friends ensure our world thrives.  

Like bees, butterflies are plant pollinators. Their wings, comprised of rich colors and camouflage, carry them from plant to plant. As the butterfly moves from flower to flower, pollen is transferred. This pollination process allows plants to produce the next generation of plants, and so continues the beauty of nature. 

This summer, Powell Gardens invites you to the 25th Annual Festival of Butterflies. This year, the Gardens will highlight bold tropical plantings and whimsical, fluttering pollinators from Madagascar. Spend the day outdoors exploring tropical and native butterflies alongside stunning botanic displays. Visitors will experience the colorful natural art of flowers and butterflies and their connection to the world around them. Festival of Butterflies opens July 21 and runs daily until August 7 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, please visit powellgardens.org/butterflies.

In addition to the festival, newly commissioned glass sculptures by Tyler Kimball of Monarch Glass Studio will be unveiled in celebration of the 25th anniversary. The artwork, one-of-a-kind sculptural interpretations of the American Lotus, will be installed in the water among the seasonal blooming lotuses. Newly installed docks, the artwork and the lotus flowers provide visitors a unique viewing experience, perfect for photographers to flex their macro photo skills! 

Other ways to engage with pollinators and visual art is by attending Artful Gardens: Festival of Butterflies. Donna Houtteman, founder of ArtBlocksKC, will teach this third installment in a new series, Artful Gardens. This series sets out to explore the connection between visual art and the natural world. On July 31 from 3 to 6 p.m., participants will look at butterflies and their use in national, regional and local works of art. After learning together, attendees will venture on a private after-hours tour of the Gardens. Beer, wine and snacks are provided. To register, please visit powellgardens.org/calendar

There’s certainly something for every artist at Festival of Butterflies — don’t miss it! 

–Laina Gunsallus


Visitors can take a larger than life look at the beautiful and mysterious dance of pollination (right). Pollinators, a sculpture created by Kansas City-based artists Sally Gates McEntyre and Tyler Burns, sits between the Butterfly Meadow and Native Butterfly Habitat. With playful orange and yellow spheres swaying in the wind, this wooden piece is modeled after images of enlarged pollen grains. The sculpture was designed to give visitors the chance to experience the world from the perspective of a pollinator. Make time to enjoy this stop as you stroll along Powell Gardens’ self-guided art tour. Visitors can grab a tour guide when checking in at the Visitor Center.

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