My Desert Island Plant Choices

Shirl of Shirls Gardenwatch posed a question on her blog:  if you were stranded on a desert island, what plants would you want with you?  Sounds like such a simple question, and a myriad of flowers immediately come to mind, but I gave it some thought, and these are the three I settled on.


The first thing I’d want in the way of plants would be color — so the first plant I’d take with me would be dahlias.  Their color is spectacular and their blooms are diverse.  They are showy on the plant and make beautiful cut flower arrangements as well — an important consideration when you’re decorating a grass hut! :)


The second plant I chose was a gardenia, for its extraordinary fragrance.   As well, it is an evergreen plant with beautiful glossy leaves, so can be enjoyed all year round.  I don’t suppose that’s such an important thing on a desert island.  I could tuck a creamy bloom in my hair and inhale its heady scent all day long.

Having settled on color and scent, I decided that, like Shirl, I’d have to have a tree with me.  But what kind?  I adore cedar trees for their scent and full, feathery branches.  I love the sound of poplar trees as their leaves rustle in the wind.  Paper white birches are hard to beat, and a mighty oak would provide much-needed shade.


However, I finally settled on an apple tree — living in a region that is known for its apple orchards and varieties of fruit, it seemed like a natural choice.  Not only could one enjoy the lovely blossoms, but it would eventually reward with fruit and shade as well.

So, those are my choices — if you’d like to take part in Shirls little challenge, you can sign up here.


Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

33 thoughts on “My Desert Island Plant Choices”

  1. Very nice choices. I especially love the gardenia!

    I’ve only ever had one gardenia plant, and it was grown inside in a container. I’d love to have a property where I could plant them and let them grow. They smell so heavenly.

  2. Great choices Nancy!

    I love dahlias and we could have a lot of fun breeding new varieties from your pictured selection!

    I’m glad a couple of people are bringing apples as they’re so refreshing to eat.

    I don’t know Gardenias that well – but that’s the great thing about what everyone’s bringing – lot’s of new plants to explore :)

    Have a great weekend!

    This has been an interesting and fun challenge — every time I visit someone’s site, I’m thinking, ‘Hey, I never thought of that one!’ And yes, dahlias are a favorite of mine — my Dad grew them back when I was just a little girl. :)

  3. Ohh Yes! What great plants to bring!!!!
    Thanks for the fav. on blotanical!

    You’re welcome for the Fav and thanks for enjoying my choices. :) Sounds like this island is going to be a happenin’ place!

  4. Hi Nancy, thanks so much for bringing these three, the dahlias are divine, the gardenia is great and the apple has multiple attributes. :-)

    Hello Frances — I’m glad you like my choices. Hopefully, there will be provisions enough to make a great apple pie! :-)

  5. Good choices Nancy. I just love dahlias and hardly ever grow them. I must put them on my list for planting this year.

    Strangely, people seem to think dahlias are difficult to grow — and I suppose they could be, depending on your climate and soil and such. But I’ve always found them to be great producers and adore the new, smaller varieties. Good luck if you decide to plant them. :)

  6. nancy,

    Love your choices…I was looking at dahlias in a catalog this morning…there are more choices and colors then I imagined and the ones with dark, almost black leaves are stellar. Gardenia fragrance is intoxicating and who wouldn’t want an apple they could pluck from a tree. Have a good day nancy. gail

    I’m glad you like my choices — yes, I found some new varieties of smaller dahlias on Veseys site today and they’re just stunning. Those dark blooms remind me of the ones my Dad used to plant. Most of his seemed to be yellow and a deep wine color — I don’t suppose there were as many to choose from 40 years ago. They’re just such a versatile flower with such a variety of bloom shapes, sizes, and colour. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  7. Gardenia, is an excellent choice. I forgot all about that one when I was deciding.

    Always Growing

    I’m seeing wonderful plants on everyone’s posts that I’d love to include. :) I hope it’s a large island!

  8. Very thoughtful choices Nancy! You covered a lot of areas with those three plants. I forgot about gardenias too, I guess because I’ve never grown them. and Dahlias are excellent. I could easily put them in place of the peonies I selected. I overlooked trees when I played ~ there were so many flowers and I struggled narrowing it down so much I couldn’t possibly expand into the realm of trees too! Lovely you could think ahead like that.

    So difficult to try and choose only three, isn’t it? Your choices were perfect, too!

  9. I’m with you on the dahlias, for sure! Great choices, Nancy. If I were bringing an apple tree, I’d choose a Yellow Transparent, because it makes the best applesauce!

    Have a great weekend!

    I’m so glad your dahlias did well for you, Jared. You should check out Veseys Canadian site — I’ll post the link on your blog. :) Some wonderful new varieties.

  10. The dahlias are beautiful and would certainly add color!

    I’m imagining being on a tropical island, watching a gorgeous sunset, with a salty ocean breeze blowing and plucking a crisp, sweet, juicy, delicious apple from your tree. Now that would be paradise!

    Paradise, indeed!

  11. Which apple variety (inquiring minds want to know!). I keep seeing people having dahlias as one of their DIPs, and with your photos I see why, for sure. I don’t grow dahlias but love them in other people’s gardens, and they’re awesome cut flowers too.

    Hi Jodi — I believe my first choice would be a Honeycrisp, but I also put the older Golden Delicious and Cox Orange high on my list. :) While searching out some dahlia photos, I came across many new varieties, some which only grow 12 – 18″ and would be perfect in containers or mixed in beds…and the colour!! Veseys has some wonderful varieties on their site.

  12. Ooh, lovely choices indeed Nancy! Growing up in TX, the fragrance of Gardenias on a hot summer night brings back happy memories of years past. The beautiful colors, textures & shapes of Dahlias would add to your tropical oasis too. You really captured all the senses with sight, smell, touch, and taste!

    I’ve never lived where gardenias grew in abundance, but I have had a plant myself, and can only imagine how their perfume would fill the air. I think this island adventure is going to be a little bit of Paradise. :)

  13. Really good choices! I love that you have picked trees – most people just pick perennials.
    Reading all these posts about desert island plants is making it even more difficult to pick 3 for myself =)
    Have a nice day!

  14. Hi Nancy . it is taking me a while to get to every one’s post on the picks for the desert aka-dessert ? LOL island.
    Dahlias are gorgeous .. gardenia .. the scent would keep you going no matter what .. and an apple tree ! of course .. this could be the perfect diet I have been looking for .. dahlias in my hair .. gardenias for my perfume .. and only apples to eat .. I would look great !! LOL
    Great picks girl !

  15. Hi there Nancy, sorry my island ship keeps stopping as I pass the islands and it has taken me a while to get here ;-)

    Very nice choices and a different selection which is great too! Dahlias I have never grown (not enough sun) and I have no space for an apple tree (your choice looks sooo… tempting too) but I should have thought that I could have taken one to my island as there is plenty of room! Great to see you took a tree :-D

    The gardenia really caught my eye – what a beautiful flower. However at first I confess I was quite confused. I thought on arrangements my Mum might make. Ah… I looked up books. I saw the flower you have shown and I admired it once again. Then… it occurred to me it was a gerbera that I was thinking about. Phew… now I can look at your beautiful flower once again… and then I wished I had taken it and the gerbera with me! Ah… I knew a few days later I’d have different choices! Enjoy your island cruise, Nancy :-D

    This was such a fun project, Shirl! Sure helps brighten these gloomy days. :) Thanks for hosting it!

  16. really well thought out choices Nancy. I love gardenias too. I have one I bring inside over the winter – had it for probably five years. It’s nice and healthy, but it hasn’t bloomed in all that time. It does make a nice plant anyway, as you said. I sure would love to have it bloom though – that fragrance is heavenly!

  17. Hi from val at pencil and leaf.. thanks so much for you lovley comment. This is such a nice subject for a post.. apples! Oh how I do miss apple trees from the UK. What I wouldnt give for a beautiful Bramely cooking apple right now!

  18. Yes that was really a very good choice to bring on an
    desert island. Lovely flowers and fruittree. You can smell on the flowers and eat the fruits and perhaps make juice of the appel to drink.



  19. The variety of plants that people have picked is just amazing. Yours are wonderful, and remind me of how we are connected to plants in so many different ways.


  20. Those dahlia photos are amazing Nancy! I’ve never grown any. Are they easy to grow? Love the colors, and you can’t go wrong with the gardenia, and yours is a beautie. Great photo, as always. The apple tree is such a lovely tree, and I had 1 in my yard growing up as a child. I also had a willow tree as a child, so that’s what I chose. But looking at your photo makes me wish I had that tree right now to pick off a couple of juicy apples! Looking forward to our Island Adventure! Have you got your plane tickets yet? One-way, of course;) It’ll be so heavenly there we won’t want to leave. Ocean, sun, sand and flowers…AND great company!

  21. Excellent choices, Nancy. The dahlias are exquisite, and I’m with you in regards to the scent of gardenias. Apple trees is simply inspired.

  22. Nancy, your choices are inspired and sure hard to argue with. Oh boy, wouldn’t life with Gardenia’s be something else? I remember smelling them at Disney World one early evening and it just about knocked me out. It was so hard to leave!

    Also, you made me go to the fridge after seeing your apple picture. Consider your post a culinary success. :-)

  23. Thank you, everyone, for your lovely comments! I do think this island adventure is going to be a spectacular one — certainly colorful and scented! As an aside, none of the above photos are mine — if you click on any of them, they will take you to the various sites from which they came. :) Bon voyage, all!

  24. Could I visit your island. I enjoy dahlias, which seem to grow with ease here. Gardenia is wonderful. Unfortunately my pups took my only plant out. And apples? Well, this is Washington state. Love the pics, especially the shot of the tree.

  25. I tried dahlias for the first time last summer and am completely in love with them! They go very nicely with coleus.
    My mum grew a gardenia tree in Australia and it was always one of my favourites. Such a delightful perfume!
    An apple tree gives so much…beautiful blossoms and delicious fruit!
    Great choices. It’s going to be a wonderful island to inhabit :)

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