Friday, January 23, 2009

Desert island plants

After dropping in to visit Patient Gardener's Blog I came across a lovely little activity started by Shirl at Shirl's Garden Watch, picking three 'desert island plants' to take with you. Rules are: no food plants, don't worry about climate, it's perfect. So here are my choices, with just a tiny bit of rule-bending in the middle there – as well as the shameful use of images sourced at Google images to illustrate the selections.

Desert island? I'll need shade, so I'll make it a poinciana, Delonix regia, please. These are all over tropical Australia, but they struggle along in temperate Sydney and never look so nice as they do in up north in Brisbane, Broome and Darwin. I want one!

In addition to the stunning flowers, the feathery foliage casts gorgeous shade, and the tree itself spreads very wide. You could easily fit a feasting table underneath one of these.

Here's the "rule-bending" bit. Can I nominate poppies in general? For starters, on the hilltops of my desert island I'd love to see fields of Californian poppies. I love the dense, clear orange colour of these poppies, one of my favourite oranges.

And in a freakishly cool part of the island I'd finally be able to enjoy the blue of the Himalayan poppy.

And while I'd have no interest in harvesting an opium poppy for its toxic nectar, at least I could have the satisfaction of growing something both illegal and pretty.

However, down closer to the beach shack, I'd have lots and lots and lots of Iceland poppies to pop into vases to bring inside. All colours please, and did I mention I wanted lots? And PS: if the judges say "sorry, no rule-bending" I'll just go for lots and lots of Icelands, thanks.

Finally, I'd like something to remind me of home here in Australia, so I've chosen our most unusual yet beautiful gum tree, the gungurru, formally known as Eucalyptus caesia but most well known these days by the name it's sold under, 'Silver Princess'. It's a weeping gum tree, a slender thing that looks undernourished when there's only one of them to behold. I'd need a good stand of them somewhere to do the fantasy justice. The 'Silver Princess' name comes from the white coating on its branches and gumnuts.

Its flowers are very big, not the biggest of all the gum flowers, but much larger than average.

Its bark is sometimes underrated, as is the bark of many gums, but I'll be looking forward to that show on my island, too.

After the flower show ends the gumnuts have their turn at stardom.

However, the best way to fall in love with this tree is to see it in bloom, with its weeping habit and the ghostly white pallor to its trunk. There are a few of these trees scattered here and there in Sydney, but none are healthy. This tree belongs in a much less humid climate than Sydney's. It's a native of Western Australia, which has cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers. I guess if I can dial up the climate to keep a Himalayan poppy happy, it should be easy enough to set the dial for one section of the island to 'Perth, Western Australia' too.

(Again, I have left any identifying tags in place on photos to credit a few, but all pix have been downloaded off Google images, hence the patchy quality).


Shirley said...

Hi there Jamie, set that dial to what ever you want – any plant will grow on this Island ;-)

What great choices. Two trees, excellent! Both look stunning but the interest value of the gum tree wins out for me :-D

Ah… the meconopsis, a plant I love and grow in my garden. I think this is the first to go to an Island which I am surprised at. Oh go on… we’ll let you take a selection of poppies! What a sight for tired eyes these orange ones are – they would certainly keep your spirits bright wouldn’t they?

This island hopping has been great in discovering new blogs. What a stunning flower your ginger lily is… now if maybe I saw this a couple of days ago ;-)

tina said...

Those are awesome plants! It is so nice to see the regional influence on choices everyone is making. I think I saw that poinciana on at least one other blog-but the other two are new. I simply adore the gum tree.

Helen/patientgardener said...

Thanks for the mention. I love the idea of a selection of poppies. I sowed some seeds including meconopsis this week - havent tried them before and I understand they are difficult so fingers crossed.

Chandramouli S said...

Hi Jamie! I like the tree for shade idea and Poppies - so clever of you!

Megan said...

Oooh, I love your picks. The shape of that first tree is wonderful, I've never seen it before. That eucalyptus is incredible, I want that one too.

Unknown said...

I love it when someone from Australia participates in these sorts of projects, because I get to learn a little bit more about the plants of your country. I LOVE the poinciana, but actually, I love all of your choices. I'm a poppy nut (and grow Meconopsis as well as all the others) so that choice also made me smile.

Anonymous said...

I love all your choices but esp. poinciana, Delonix regia. I have never seen this before. What a gorgeous tree. The gum tree, too, is new to me and is beautiful. I can just imagine a tree with all those gumnuts on it. It must really be something to see.

Always Growing

Melinda said...

Beautiful choices - especially the silver gum.

Juliet said...

I love your choices - the poinciana is spectacular - I had also never heard of them but now I want one too! I can't imagine they would grow in the UK though :(

I sneakily chose poppies as well :-D - in fact, I cheated rather more than you did!