21 January 2009

My Desert Island Plants


Shirl of Shirl's Gardenwatch came up with a great topic for discussion: what three plants would we take with us if we were to be on a desert island? I decided to take part in this, not so much as a meme (I'm like Joy and others, declining to take part in tagging memes and all these 'awards', as they got to be too much and to many) but because it's a really good topic for a blog post.

And it's not nearly as easy as you might think it would be. Nope, not at all. Let's go with what I WOULDN'T take with me, to begin with:


Even though it's most decidedly my signature plant, I wouldn't take the blue poppy. It is more finicky than a teenager looking for her perfect prom dress, and like that prom dress, is only on display for a short time before it's gone. I like flowers that last and last and last.

I spent a fair bit of time going through photos, looking at blog entries I've made, even consulted some of the articles I've written. And then things just clicked into place. Here are my choices and my reasons:


Lavender is my favourite fragrance, followed closely by roses. But it's lavender I need to have around me; lavender soap, handcream, flower sachets, body wash, essential oil. I love the sound of bees, bemused and besotted by lavender flowers, as they hover around the blossoms feasting.I love the colour of the foliage, the colour of the blooms, the scent of the leaves when we run our hands through them. Definitely a plant I need around me, even though I don't grow it perfectly well.

I neglected to add that the photo above is not from my garden; it's part of a herb garden at the Alumni Gardens of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro, my alma mater. Truro is colder in winter than Scotts Bay, so I live in hope of doing better with lavender--as soon as I transform all my clay to something more genial.


Echinaceas. I'd have to have them. But not the fancy coloured ones, much as I adore them. No, I'd want the most vigourous and undemanding varieties possible, the standard species. Why? Pollinators love coneflowers. Birds love coneflowers at all times of year. (for proof of this, go see the wonderful photo at Notes from a Cottage Garden and see Connie's "birdfeeder." And I love coneflowers for their long period of bloom, their winter interest, their handsome architectural shape...you get the hint.


And I'd have to have a tree. Well, you can debate whether this is a large shrub or a small tree, but you can't deny its beauty. You may call it, variously, shadbush, serviceberry, chuckly pear, chuckleberry, saskatoon, Indian pear...the botanical name is Amelanchier canadensis, and it is one of my favourite plants on the planet. It's one of the first trees to flower here, (in showy blooms, following the red maple and a few others with less showy flowers). It's native to my part of Canada. The spring foliage is a gorgeous bronzy colour. The fruit is delicious. The fall foliage is glorious. Birds love it. Bees love it. I love it. It's one of my highly recommended plants, every chance I get.

On reflecting, it wasn't really that hard to pick three plants. They are all important to pollinators. And pollinators are important to our survival. So I want to make sure there are lots of bees and butterflies and birds hanging around on that desert island with us. Because without pollinators...we'd have a desert, for sure.

Of nothing but sand.

35 comments:

  1. My theory is always to decide quickly with these, so my choices are hydrangea, lilium, and buddeia.

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  2. I love a post that makes you think, and you my friend are an expert for creating such gems....
    three plants....
    1- Dracocephalum ruyschianum - the endearing blue dragon's head
    2- Corydalis elata
    3- Ceratostigma plumbaganoides - leadwort
    .... noticably all have blue flowers.... I think being in the desert I would soon forget what a crystal lake of blue would look like... this would help to keep the memory alive.

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  3. Teza, I love all your choices, because I too am partial to blue flowers (especially C. elata, for its fragrance and longlasting bluest of blue-ems.)

    Elizabeth, great choices, but now you have to pick species. Heh heh heh...

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  4. Love all your choices, jodi, especially Amelanchier canadensis (a must in my garden) but (thanks to the 'no restrictions to growing conditions') being a 'woodland' lover would choose the Paper white Birch (Betula papyrifera) ~ to lean upon for strength and love the bark; woodland ferns (a survivor on the planet for eons); and lily-of-the-valley (reminds me of my mother and 1st garden mentor).

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  5. Good choices. I like the way that they encourage wildlife as well.

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  6. Great choices Jodi. There was a similar topic a while ago where we had to choose 6 and I found that really hard, so I salute you for being able to narrow it down to three. Lavender and Echinacea were on my list too.

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  7. Hi there Jodi :-)

    Excellent choices Jodi! I considered the lavender but the cone flower was second to my lewisia - for the very same reason too. I love your tree and at very first glance I though it was a magnolia and that was my second choice for a tree too. The bees were top in my list for pollinators also but I finally decided they would get food from the food plants on the Island too. With no restrictions on plant numbers I would have had the biggest wild flower meadow I could fit on my Island. I was surprised at my choices too - I kept coming to pink plants - that was scary ;-)

    Thanks for joining in. This idea just evolved out of an ending remark I made in a post. I suppose I never considered it to be a meme. I responded to my comments and we were off and running before I knew where I was! Is it okay if I add your link to my post list? Thanks again :-D

    Great choices Teza - ah... dracocephulum and blue flowers. I considered blue flowers for a while too :-D

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  8. Excellent choices, Jodi, especially the Amelanchier canadensis. I have the Amelanchier lamarkii in my garden (and in my old garden too) and love it to bits. Come to think of it, yours and mmy choices rather complement each other. ;-)

    My desert island post is up too.

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  9. Hi Jodi, I love seeing your choices and we do share one of them, I won't say which though. :-) I agree completely about some of the memes and awards, but this is such food for thought on cold wintry days, I think it will be very well attended, good for Shirl! Wasn't it fun to think about these plants and why we would want them?
    Frances

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  10. Jodi .. now I have to admit, something like this type of challange is not stressful yet really interesting and I'm thinking of doing it too .. but I have to also admit I was thinking lavender as well, so I'm going to try and jump over that and be original if I can ? LOL
    Hope you are healing super fast and feeling better by the minute .. you sound good ! : )

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  11. Jodi the Amelanchier canadensis is a delightful choice, it was so hard to pick just three - Lavender made it to my short list, so I am glad it is one of your top 3.
    Your desert island is going to humming with pollinators with these choices.
    K

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  12. Love all you choices Jodi, I so hope we all are stranded one the same island! I think we would have so much fun!

    Take care/ Tyra

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  13. This was a fun meme. This time of year with this kind of weather (cold and snowy) it got us to that island even if only in our mind. I am feeling warmer already just reading all of these posts.

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  14. Somehow I'm not surprised that we'd have two (at least) of the same favorites. I'm going to think about a third choice to add to lavender (I really only need this one plant on the desert island but it's nice to be able to bring others) and service berry and possibly maybe I'll join the meme later...

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  15. I know which one you share with Frances-good thing I read her comment first or I may have spilled the beans. I LOVE the serviceberry-a very highly recommended tree for my area-and a great choice for treats.

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  16. Jodi,

    Great choices and I love the explanation why! I didn't even consider lavender...even tho it is a fragrance that is everywhere in my house! It is a beautiful plant even not in flower. Echinacia was on the long list! Like you a tree was a must, just for different reasons! Wasn't this a fun exercise!

    gail

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  17. Great choices, with good reason too! Didn't know that about the poppy. With 10, 12 and 14 year old girls still at home, I do not need a finicky teenage plant in my garden space!

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  18. Good choices and I like your reasons for choosing them.Glad you are bringing Echinaceas which I can't grow. Lavender has a wonderful fragrance and I'm a fan of Amelanchier too!

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  19. oooooh, I love the blue poppy. We can't grow that down here in the south. The border is beautiful too!

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  20. It's so cool to see what others are choosing! I'm interested to see a number of rudbeckias, and lavender, and of course roses. This is a fun exercise for sure, especially on days like today when we're having 'snowsqualls' up here on the hill. And wind. Of course!

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  21. Jodi,
    That blue poppy is incredible! I've never seen one before!

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  22. Three cheers for your reasoning about your choices supporting pollinators, Jodi. I feel shallow for thinking only of looks for my selections. I'm so glad you and some others are bringing lavender to the island. That's one plant that I really would like to grow better, and I'm sure it will thrive in those perfect island conditions. And hey, slip some meconopsis seeds in your pocket before you go. Remember, we can grow *anything* there!

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  23. Beautiful choices! Love the echinaceas! and the blue poppy is AMAZING! I saw this blooming at the Wisley garden in th UK and immediately fell in love with it, too bad it's a finicky one.

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  24. I would expect the Meconopsis! Lovely as are they all. I will be happy to visit you on your island if you come over to visit me.

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  25. Thanks for visiting my blog Jodi and your comment. I have amelanchier canadensis on my wish list for my garden. You have helped to persuade me further that I must plant one :)

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  26. These will do......just kidding. I love lavender too but don't have any at my new home. I did buy a wonderful perfume this week made with lavender and vanilla. OH man does it smell good. I forgot the name already:). The name didn't matter as it was the lavender scent that made me buy it. Smells so clean.

    If I was the only one on the island, I might enjoy having a few pollinators around. It's entertaining.

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  27. Echinacea is a must have for me too. Lavender would be a very nice addition. It was quite difficult to narrow my choices to just three.

    I love seeing your picture with your comments now!

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  28. This definitely is not an easy meme, but a good one. (I'm still trying to narrow down the list.) Your choices make a lot of sense & I'd be happy to take them with me too, if only it weren't for all those other plants...

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  29. I love the last picture, pretty shrub/tree. Your right we would have too much sand.

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  30. Great choices, Jodi. I can't believe that you choose so easily. I had a hard time deciding.

    Jan
    Always Growing

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  31. You made some wise choices Jodi. All the qualities that these plants have will make for a garden of eden on your island. :) I've never had much luck with lavender either, it loves my summers but hates my wet winters.

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  32. Your lavender, along with everyone elses fragrant plants, is going to create an atmosphere of tranquility and relaxation, Jodi. I can't wait to get to this island;) Echinachea is so pretty and your tree would provide not only beauty, but fresh fruit--especially if we were picky about what food was already provided to us:) See ya there!

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  33. Jodi, I think your choices are great. And I feel quite selfish, thinking only of my own pleasure when I chose 3 plants, while you were concerned about the wlfare of the pollinators. Very clever and very important!
    Katarina

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  34. I love your photo of the Meconopsis, even if you're not taking it with you to the island! I cheated slightly (well, OK, I cheated quite a lot) - and chose poppies, so I could include all the other varieties as well as the blue ones.

    I also chose an Amelanchier :-D - even though it's not native here the one in our garden is very popular with our birds too, and I really love it.

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  35. I know I'm way late, but this got me thinking, so I had to reply. Such a hard choice, but - I'd take squash (buttercup or a winter type) - so there'd be something to eat. My second "practical" one is hard - a nut tree - maybe an English chestnut, with edible nuts - was my first thought (though a willow, or eucalyptus, for healing properties would be good, too.) Then I thought - well, a tree would take too long to grow, and I'd either get rescued, or succumb to the elements before it was any good to me - so, I'm going with high bush blueberry (could provide some shelter, too.) And, for beauty - poppies, to naturalize all over the island, and make me happy! (Ever the practical planner, I am - but beauty has to feature too! ;-)

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