Friday, January 23, 2009

Desert Island Plant Challenge

Here is a fun challenge from shirls gardenwatch. Shirl asks the question, "If I was stranded on a desert island, what three plants would I take if there were no limits to growing conditions whatsoever."

For some, this might be an easy question to answer. However, for the serious gardener, it is extremely difficult! Please play along with us and list your three plants in the "Comments" section of this post.

Here are my choices. First, I'd want a substantial shade tree that could provide ample shelter and shade. It would have to be a Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana). Do you remember the tree that Forest and Jenny used as their special place in the movie Forest Gump? The same tree where Forest buried her under? That was a Southern Live Oak. Here are some pictures of some very old Live Oaks:

Photo by Tri Poodle

Photo by msmail

The Southern Live Oak is evergreen and provides very dense shade. The two trees in these photographs most likely are over 200 years old! I think the Live Oak would provide so much shade and shelter, that I could live very comfortably underneath it on any island!

The next plant I would elect to take with me would have to bring me great joy in its beauty. Therefore, I would pick a Tropicana Canna Lily (Canna sp. 'Tropicana'). They are big, bold and stunning to behold! In pots, they are even sculptural!

Photo by brier399

These canna lilys can grow as tall as six feet in height and have a brilliant orange flower. The leaves are striped and very exotic. A bold colorful touch to any garden, they command attention and are surely the stars of the show!

The next plant I would pick would be this ...

This is the Red Volunteer Daylily (Hemerocallis sp. 'Red Volunteer'). To me, this is one of the greatest perennials going! With it's bright red color and hardy disposition, this plant is the Scarlett O'Hara of the plant world! It is tall for a daylily -- 36" in height -- and is extremely tough, seeming to do well in almost any garden soil. It has a very long bloom time for daylilys, as well. I absolutely love it's bright red flowers that can grow as wide as seven or eight inches across.

I have two runner's up as well. I would have to smuggle these plants in somehow to my little desert island. First runner up is the Sango Kaku Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku'). With it's bright red bark and brilliant yellow fall foliage, this is a tree for all seasons!

Second runner-up is the Bog Lily (Crinum americanum). It has a lovely perfumed fragrance and big beautiful strap-like foliage. I'll take a big clump of these in any garden I have!

So there you have it. If I had to pick three plants to take with me on a deserted island, these would be my choices. What are yours?


  1. Hi there Pam my island ship is almost done its evening cruise around the Islands ;-)

    Very nice choices indeed! I so love your tree, what a fantastic shape it is. I would love to draw that one! The daylily sounds like it would fill and colour up your island very well too. Ah… but it’s the canna that wins over for the flowers and leaves. Very nice :-D That’s it my ship is docking for tonight. I wonder if there will be many more islands to visit tomorrow ;-)

  2. Love the stately manner of the Live Oak. The resurrection fern is growing all over it and adds such character. Love the color of the canna and the lilies will be ever so pretty as well. Great choices in island fair...

  3. I liked all your choices. I had a hard time not picking a daylily and was glad to see you included one.

    Always Growing

  4. I'd want a maple tree, tiger lillies, and a lilac bush (love the smell).

  5. I'm going to steal your first choice...the pictures completely won me over. I'm from Houston originally and there is a Hamburger restaurant called Becks Prime. The property has GIANT oaks that you can sit under and eat. They are so big, metal joist type thingys have to hold up the limbs.
    2. Gingko tree
    3. Fig tree

    Thanks for visiting my blog, chica!!

  6. Hmmmm. This is interesting. I would choose an oak for shade because it's my favorite tree. Doesn't have to be a Live Oak (but they are gorgeous).

    Then I'd have to have a coconut tree so I'd have something to eat and drink. The husk/shell would also burn so I could send up a smoke signal for rescue. You could also makes mats and clothing out of the leaves.

    Last, I would probably take an apple tree because it flowers in the spring (well, theoretically in my climate anyway) and you can eat the fruit (I am planning to be hungry while I am stranded)! Or bamboo because it grows so quickly and I can make shelter out of it. And it's lucky and I'm figuring I can use all the luck I can get on that desert island.

  7. I like that day lily. nice blog.


  8. Hi Pam,
    I'm certain you will find shade with a tree as massive as the Southern Live Oak. The canna and lilies will be lovely additions.

  9. This is an interesting topic.

    My first plant in the list would be the coconut tree for the reason that it can provide lot of things for survival (food, water and shelter). Some called it "the tree of life". You can also get an alcoholic beverage called "tuba" as the locals from the Philippines call it. By cutting across the young coconut flower, it gives-off a dripping clear liquid which when collected could reach a liter or two in a day. It is sweet and contains a little alcohol. When left to stand for days or more it turns sour and there you have a vinegar.
    The coconut leaves are good for shelter and has many uses too. It can be weaved into baskets, mats, and hats.
    The coconut shell can be used as cups and liquid containers.

    My second plant would be a bamboo, a Chinese bamboo to be specific. It has a wide range of practical usage. Perhaps, if my location in the desert is near the sea, then, I can make a raft out of bamboos. It floats very well in the water. The young bamboo shoots can be eaten too and is a very good source of calcium.

    My third plant would be a balete tree. I don't know how it is called internationally, but that's what Filipinos called it. It can grow very big with lot of aerial roots hanging from its branches and can have a huge canopy for a cool shade.


  10. Lovely blog - I'm really enjoying visiting all the blogs of the people who've taken part in this challenge and finding so many I hadn't seen before.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who smuggled in an extra plant (or two!). Acers are among my favourites as well, though not in my top three (or four!) and while I'm not a big fan of foliage plants in general, that photo of the Canna leaf is just fabulous, and I love the orange flowers too. Your choices would certainly brighten up a desert island.


I love comments! Let me know your thoughts.