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Best Day Trip

Deep inside Kansas City's biggest parks, there's still the whisper of traffic or the buzz of a motorboat hanging in the air. Remote trails are refuges for runners and cyclists grunting and grinding out their urban frustrations. Powell Gardens is the opposite. This expanse inspires strolling, not sweating. The loudest intrusion is the clomping of a toddler chasing a butterfly. The quirky names on the garden plaques -- sneezeweed and plantain-leaved pussytoe -- cause even the horticulturally disinclined to stop and ponder the bizarre and beautiful vegetation. The wildlife, too, seems to linger: A blue heron casually observes passers-by, its slender head cocked as high as a hyacinth bush with bright-pink blooms the size of dinner plates. And this getaway even makes farming feel luxurious. The new Heartland Harvest Garden is an artistic celebration of food production: Trellises drip with foot-long red noodle beans, cherry tomatoes hang from iron archways, and rows of colorful swiss chard are planted in the patterns of 19th-century quilts. Here, about 30 miles east of the city, visitors don't even miss the roses. They're far more delighted to stop and smell the purple basil.
1st of every month, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Dec. 1-March 31, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Starts: April 1. Continues through Oct. 31, 2009

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