The Marlese Lowe Gourley Island Garden

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The Marlese Gourley Island Garden

This area is undergoing renovations through 2021 but will remain open to visitors. 

Open in 2001, the Marlese Lowe Gourley Island Garden is the summer jewel of Powell Gardens. Tiered pools in this water garden offer a diverse array of aquatic plants in summer. Featured aquatic plants include waterlilies, lotus, cannas, and papyrus, which fill the pools with texture and movement.

As visitors traverse the winding path through this area, they will encounter the Sunken Garden, a hidden space enclosed by stone walls and flower beds leading to a two-tiered pool housing water lilies and goldfish.  

Continuing along the pathway, view water-loving shrubs including Virginia sweetspire, buttonbush, and summersweet clethra along the shoreline of the 12-acre lake. Look for water-loving perennials such as iris, rose mallows, and cattails near the arbor and viewing deck.

What’s in Bloom?


Snowdrops are the first to make their appearance on sunny, south-facing slopes and are followed by crocus and early daffodils.


Crabapples begin to bloom and display pools are filled with water in early-March. Hardy marginal plants are the first plants displayed in the pools, followed by hardy water lilies later in the spring.


Colorful goldfish add movement to the sunken garden and waterlilies are at their prime within the larger pools. Smooth hydrangeas with their subtle green blooms soften the rock elements of this garden.  Look for the tropical succulents in a variety of handmade pots arranged seating areas.


You’ll find asters and autumn crocus, along with our fall display of annuals, as the water plants are removed for the season in September. The small prairie near the middle pool turns to golden hues as winter approaches.