Desert Island Plant Challenge

Shirl from Scotland has all garden bloggers to her desert island plant challenge. We can each take along three plants along that we really don't want to live without. Of course, even if the temperature were benign and food were not a problem, I'd still feel \seriously deprived with just 3 plants. With 8000 plants in the California Floristic Province, one of the biodiversity hotspots on this planet, 3 seems just not enough (even if only a portion of those plants are well suited for garden environment). But, regardless, here are my three choices.
First, a bit of color: California poppy (Eschscholzia californica). I have those beauties in my back yard, where they bloom from spring into fall and reseed wildly. It's so much fun to watch the native bees get drunk on the pollen and then tumble out of the blossoms. They thrive on neglect, I regularly see them between the tram rails in San Francisco.
Next, I want some fragrance, and I'll pick Salvia clevelandii (cleveland sage), a native shrub that grows to 4-5 feet high and at least as wide. Well, to be frank, it might grow twice as wide if you let it. I'm assuming the desert island has good to excellent drainage, I've already watched 3 Salvia clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" drown in the clay in spring. The species (rather than the Winifred Gilman cultivar) seems to survice and thrive, though. I like nothing better than coming outside on a summer evening and brushing against the leaves. That smells like California to me.
I'd also like a tree, and really struggled with that choice. Here was a chance to have a sleepless night: A Blue oak? California redbud? Manzanita? But then I remembered I'm not actually going. Much relieved, I picked Sambucus mexicana (blue elderberry). The white blossoms are visited by many insects in the spring, and the blue berries are a favorite of the native birds. You can even make jam from them. Sambucus is fine with some shade but seems to thrive in the sun with no water in the wild (the plant books say it's found near streams, but I've seen them on top of the mountains).
P.S. I don't yet have photos of those plants yet, though I have them all in my garden. The poppy and the salvia photo are from Wikipedia and the elderberry pictures are from CalPhotos, where you can look at many more photos of California Native plants. All elderberry pictures I'm showing here (thumbprints are allowed with attribution) are by Keir Morse.


Jan said…
You have some good choices here. I really like the poppies. It was hard picking only three, wasn't it?

Always Growing
Lovely choices for Shirl's desert island challenge. Eschscholzia californica, is such a jolly choice they are great in the garden.

Thank you for visiting my blog, and also for letting me know the answer to my question about NAME/URL on the blogger platform, much appreciated.
I have just realized that there are two mice here :) cool
Town Mouse said…
Well, yes, there are indeed two mice. Of course I had no idea what kind of character I signed up for when I picked the Town Mouse...
shirl said…
Hi there Renate, sorry my island ship keeps stopping as I pass the islands and it has taken me a while to get here ;-)

This challenge has been fascinating. I love your choices and your reasons for choosing your plants too. Poppies have been very popular on the islands, not sure I’ve seen salvia and pretty sure sambucus hasn’t arrived! Just looked up the flowers of the sambucus and they have really my eye!! Excellent choices. This was all purely for fun and fun seems to have been had around all the islands. Hope you enjoyed it too :-D
Susan Tomlinson said…
What beautiful plant choices! I do love a good salvia...
Country Mouse said…
I remember Desert Island Discs on the radio growing up in Scotland. A famous person would pick 10 records (played on the show, with anecdotes) and one book "Besides the bible and Shakespeare." I'm not sure how botanically correct it is to take exotic plants to a desert island ecology but in my fantasy island there would be sweet peas. I don't know which California natives I'd take. Actually this question makes me realize that the plants I bond with are those I grew up with - hollyhocks and roses and dahlias etc - I think the other UK plant I'd take is the British wild bluebell. Acres of it, understory in a sweet woods. But my third would be a magnificant mature California live oak under whose twisting boughs I could relax and daydream.
Hi there, your choices are great, I love salvia, and poppies...well, I can't grow them very well and I love them. Those CA poppies thrive you say...well send some my way, please!

Your last choice sounds wonderful too. And you say you're not really going? Hmm...a bunch of us already have plane tickets and are contemplating sitting under my willow tree, smelling the soothing scented blooms, and drinking some sort of herbal tea from our plants.

You had me thinking they were YOUR photos the whole way through! They are wonderful photos and now I just need to get some of those poppy seeds...

PS To Country Mouse, Your choices are lovely, too. If I could only figure out 'which 3' you are taking with you! So many of, they're hard to choose from;)
Juliet said…
Hello Renate! Thank you for visiting the other day. I am still gradually going round all the desert islands!

I do like all your choices - especially the poppy, but you knew that! The Sambucus is lovely - I hadn't come across that variety of them before.

I'm also now wondering what a Manzanita is - I'll have to google and see :-D