Flowers for an Island Garden Bed

Written by heidi cardenas
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Flowers for an Island Garden Bed
The stripes on canna leaves make them eye-catching in island gardens. (Canna Leaves image by Jennifer Grush from

With a little creativity and inspiration, it isn't difficult to design an island garden flower bed. Think about location, available light, soil quality, colour and maintenance required before buying and planting flowers. Good sunlight, rich soil with drainage and enough space to accommodate the sizes of flowers desired are required for successful flower gardening. An island garden creates a focal point in the landscape and is a perfect setting for flowers.

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Canna Lilies

Canna lilies are not true lilies but are related to ginger, banana and helicionia. They are tall, strong-stemmed ruffled flowers in shades of pink, red, yellow, orange and peach. Their thick stems and long oval or spear-like leaves are dark green, sometimes striped with rust or burgundy in interesting patterns. Cannas range in height from a couple of feet up to almost 10 feet.

They attract nectar and pollen-collecting birds and insects such as hummingbirds, bees and bats. Canna lilies are impressive landscape plants and are especially good as the focus of ornamental displays such as island garden beds.

They are attractive, sturdy plants that look striking planted alone or with other lower-growing plants in complementary colours such as red and purple. As tropical plants that grow from rhizomes, cannas must be dug up and stored for the winter before the first heavy frost and replanted in the spring each year.

Climbing Roses

Climbing roses grow in many varieties, including ramblers, climbing hybrid tea roses, large flowering climbing roses, floribunda roses and trailing roses. A post and rail backdrop in an island flower bed makes an ideal support for climbing roses.

Rambling roses are very hardy and aggressive growers, flowering once a season. Climbing hybrid tea roses and floribunda roses bloom all summer long and grow more slowly than ramblers.

If you are inexperienced with rose culture, take some time to read about growing roses, and talk to rose growers in your area or with your local agricultural extension service to select the best roses for your area and for the level of maintenance you are willing to provide. Most roses benefit from winter protection, especially if they are grown in unsheltered or exposed areas such as island garden beds. Plan to cover them each fall before the first winter freeze.

Day Lilies

Day lilies are hardy, attractive perennial flowers that come in a wide range of sizes and colours. They are easy-to-grow, low-maintenance perennials that return each year, making them ideal for display gardens. They grow from clumps of tubers which multiply each season. Plant taller lilies in the middle of the island bed and surround them with shorter lilies for a spectacular flower display and attractive foliage when flowers are done. Day lily leaves have an appealing fountain growth habit that is enjoyed even when there are no flowers.

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