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.