City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Growing happiness, one plant at a time.

Local gardener, Lisa Kolar, embraces all four seasons in her amazingly diverse backyard garden.

Lisa Kolar’s green thumb is truly a self-taught hobby, 30 years in the making. She credits her father for instilling in her a love and fascination with nature.

“We took family hikes into the woods, visited arboretums and helped with yard work,” she says. “When I got my first job out of college as an artist at Hallmark, I was suddenly surrounded by all of these amazing creative people who would bring in simple bouquets of flowers for someone’s birthday, and I was convinced that I could do that too someday when I had my own yard.”

Lisa has her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio, as well as a Master of Arts in teaching from University of Central Missouri. 

She learned along the way and experiments with new plants all the time. She has read countless books, watched many videos, and learned from gardens she visits. She and her husband, Bob, enjoy traveling, and most cities have amazing Botanical Gardens she finds inspiring. There are a few local spots that focus on native planting that have expanded her appreciation of the beauty of gardens, which are mentioned below.

Flowers are her favorite to plant, and she has learned that a garden needs more structure to set them off.

“Trees and shrubs are always part of a beautiful garden. I grow vegetables too, but my increasingly shaded yard has limited space for them,” she says. “Flowers just bring joy and delight, providing food for pollinators and birds. Seeing a yellow finch dangling from a Rudbeckia to eat the seed heads in my yard is quite lovely.”

As an illustrator at Hallmark, Lisa created decorative products, including paper goods, gift wrap, stickers, etc. She transitioned to an art teacher as her children were growing up and taught middle school art to 6th-8th grades at Moreland Ridge Middle School in Blue Springs for 14 years doing drawing, painting, clay and sculpture with her students. Her adult children are son, Jonathan, who is 33 and married to Heather. They have two little boys. Son, Nicholas, is 31 and daughter, Olivia, is 26. Lisa is happy that they are beginning to take an interest in gardening now that they all have their own homes and is happy to share extra plants with them!

“I’ve always considered garden design as part of my artistic expression because it involves color, texture and form just like a painting does,” she says. “Gardening is definitely my therapy. A few minutes out in the garden clears your head, allows you to see beauty and be awed by nature. Gardens draw people in, allowing you to share what you have and create community.”

Lisa started simply with a few plants and a lot of passion for creating a beautiful spot. She tried to make each view from inside worth looking at. She tells us some plants don’t survive, so you learn to find the right plant for the right place.        

She muses, “I have learned to embrace all four seasons in the garden and to maintain my little corner of the world with environmental stewardship and it certainly brings me joy every day.”

Inspiring thoughts to ponder as we embrace summertime in our area.

She recommends visiting some websites for more information on beginning your own gardening adventure in our area, including; and