The Island Garden opened in 2001 as the jewel at the epicenter of Powell Gardens. This gardener’s garden is chock full of special plants at every turn.
The Water Gardens
The centerpiece water gardens have a Monet-inspired planting palette with waterlilies, lotus and giant Victorias. Vibrant water cannas and the unique forms and reflections of papyrus, reeds and more fill the pools in summer. Boulders surround the smallest "spring pool," which cascades into the middle pool.
Decks on each side of the large pool offer places for quiet contemplation (while bio-filters underneath help clean the garden’s waters). On calm days the largest “infinity” pool blurs the line between the water garden and our centerpiece lake. During strong southerly winds, its 75-foot cascading waterfall changes to a frothy, roaring rage that spews drifts of mist across the garden.
The Secret Garden
Discover a secret, sunken garden just past the spring pool. This garden's own waterfall and pool are surrounded by raised flower beds studded with Bonica and Carefree Beauty shrub roses and seasonal annuals that are a study in purples. Sheltering hedges of sheared baldcypress enclose this mini-garden. The wall around this circular space provides a private place to sit, relax and visit.
The Living Wall
The retaining wall along the garden’s path is the longest "living" wall in North America. Made of stacked limestone, it's home to all sorts of rock-loving plants that thrive in a well-drained planting medium. You will see hen-and-chicks, sedums, many herbs like lavenders, horehound, santolina and winter savory; salvias, and glade and rock outcrop-loving wildflowers. It puts blooms at eye level and may be gently touched—creating a memorable experience for everyone from children to the elderly and disabled.
Bringing It All Together
Masses of color coordinated perennials and ornamental shrubs complete and integrate the garden's components. The shaded arbor and floating dock on the east side are good places to experience the lake.
Along the shoreline, enjoy beds of water-loving shrubs like Virginia Sweetspire, Buttonbush and Summersweet Clethra and water-loving perennials like iris, rose mallows and cattails. A prairie planting covers the "back" half of the island facing the Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel to enhance the view from inside.
Did you know? Architect Fay Jones designed the Meadow Pavilion's four-layered redwood trellis with several angled ends to create a moving shadow. Learn more »