Last week, Niki and I did something that we’ve talked about doing for years. We are both avid baseball fans and every time we’ve watched the Indians play in Kansas City (Missouri), we’ve said that we should go see that stadium. Well, we finally did it. It took us two days but we drove to KC and saw a game in Kaufman Stadium. It’s a lovely stadium with fountains that change color during the game and rise in height at special moments. Their fans are avid but welcoming as are the people we encountered elsewhere in the city.
KC is a charming city with more fountains than Rome. The water does two things. It makes you feel cool even when the weather is scorching which it was while we were there. It does also actually cool the air a bit. While there, we also visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, a must for any baseball fan but also for anyone interested in our country’s history. The museum is not huge but it is very well done and two hours was barely enough. Not too far away is the Truman Presidential Library which was interesting but not nearly as moving as the LBJ Library in Austin or the FDR Library in Hyde Park. We also enjoyed excellent barbeque and steak houses – how can you visit KC and not have a Kansas City strip? Don’t miss a trip to Union Station. It isn’t used as a station any longer but it is gorgeous.
We had read that there is a nearby botanical garden at Overland Park in Kansas. It is quite large so we went quite early since the forecast called for another nineties degree day. The most charming parts of the garden were the Monet garden and the railroad garden, much beloved by the children. At one point, the trains run below a plexiglass section of the walkway and the children flock to that. Unfortunately, the rest of the garden was not horticulturally impressive. Perhaps we visited at a bad time but it looked like much of the garden was being replanted.
Des Moines, Iowa in only three hours north of KC so we made that our next stop. A good friend of mine is the Director of Horticulture at the Des Moines Botanical Garden so even though he was out of town, we had to visit. The Garden is only two years old and still relatively small but what is there is beautifully designed. As you drive toward the parking lot, you are greeted by a stunning, colorful sculpture, an indication of what is yet to come.
For instance, in the entrance beds, the deadheads of Allium schubertii have been spray painted red.
Once you enter the visitor’s center and then exit to the outside, you are on a boardwalk over lily ponds that are edged with native plants. Following the boardwalk further, you come to the display gardens. I loved the long border of blues and purples. Everything was well labeled, a boon to the home gardener who is there for ideas.
Have you ever dreamed of standing or sitting behind a waterfall? You can do it here. A long bench sits under a modernistic waterfall that spills into a large pool.
While in Des Moines, we were also lucky enough to get a guided tour of the test garden for Meredith Corporation, the publisher of Better Homes and Gardens and Midwest Living, among others. Our guide was a long time PPA friend, Sandra Gerdes. What she has crammed into a relatively small space is nothing less than amazing. This garden is used for all their photo shoots and for testing new plants. Each small space is designed to help and inspire the home gardener. For instance, a small deck with furnishings that included a blue bench was enhanced with plantings in several containers that echoed the blue of the bench. Another small space featured a garden set on a slight slope and encircled by a path of slate chips and stone edging. Unlike wood chips or peat moss, the slate doesn’t wash away when it rains.
I was delighted to see Dianthus ‘Jolt’ in the garden. I’ve been reading about this new dianthus and Sandra told me that it lives up to its hype, blooming continuously since May in spite of extreme heat. Hopefully, some of our local nurseries will start growing it. I was also happy to see Phlox ‘Grape Lollipop’, mildew free. You know how difficult it is to find mildew-resistant phloxes. I’ve been growing ‘Coral Crème Drop’ for five years and yet to see any mildew on it. ‘Grape Lollipop’ is from the same series so I’ll have to give it a try.
Our trip also included a visit to the Chicago Botanical Gardens but I’ll save my raves for the next post.