My Choices (Desert Island Plant Challenge)

Shirls Garden Watch issued a challenge to all of us garden bloggers which you can join in or check out here.  The challenge is if “you were stranded on a desert island what three plants would you choose to take with you”.   Foodcrops and supplies to take care of these plants would be provided so that is one less decision to make for me.   This is definitely a hard choice to make for most of us since there are so many wonderful selections to choose from in the plant kingdom.  But after much thought on the matter I decided on the following three specimens:

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'

How many of you were surprised by my first choice?   Hydrangeas are one of my favorite ornamental shrubs for the garden.  ‘Limelight’ was an outstanding performer in my garden last year from late spring through winter.  There is always something to look forward to with this hardy hydrangea.  It blooms on new wood and can be grown as a large shrub or trimmed into a small tree form.  Which is what I did with mine this past fall.  The blossoms open a light green shade that gradually change to a creamy white and then lastly a mauvy pink with age.  Even in the winter the faded tan flowers add some interest to the otherwise dormant garden.  It really makes a striking combination with my burgundy cannas too.  Don’t you think?

Clematis 'Niobe'

Clematis 'Niobe'

One of my top favorite perennials is the Clematis so that is an easy choice for pick #2.  I have several varieties in my own garden and enjoy the vertical interest they can provide in sun or shade.  ‘Niobe’ is one of the hardiest large flowering varieties that I grow.  It  puts out its’ first flush in May with deep red blooms that gradually fade to a royal purple shade.  Then in September it starts the process again with a second flush.  Mine continued to bloom sporatically deep into December this past year.  

Polygonatum biflorum (Variegated Solomon's Seal)

Polygonatum biflorum (Variegated Solomon's Seal)

Initially I thought my final choice was going to be a Peony or possibly Dutch Iris.  However,  I couldn’t imagine any shade garden without variegated Solomon’s Seal growing there.  The tiny little white bell shaped flowers in the spring aren’t that spectacular, but the foliage just keeps going all season long until frost.   Combined with burgundy foliage of Heucera or other shades of green Hosta it is a real trouper for the shady areas of my yard.   What three choices would you make if you were deserted on a desert island?  Thanks Shirl for a clever challenge and fun meme this week!
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25 responses to this post.

  1. Clever! You’ve picked plants that grow so beautifully for you.
    The Polygonatum was a surprise but the other two are firmly fixed in my mind as plants associated with you 🙂

    Thanks Sunita! There was no point in taking anything that was going to be difficult with me, lol. 🙂 Glad I was able to give you a little surprise with choice #3!

    Reply

  2. You have picked what would be a shade garden here. Very pretty.

    Thanks Deb! I really like the shade loving plants. 🙂

    Reply

  3. Lovely choices, like Sunita I was surprised by the Polgonatum. I am delighted that Clematis Niobe made your list, it is my favorite Clematis, and a good reminder to myself that I have not bought it for this garden … yet
    K

    Thanks Karen, glad I was able to create a surprise for you too! Niobe is my favorite of the Clematis I grow too and you definitely need to put this on your must have list for this season. 🙂

    Reply

  4. Hi there Racquel🙂
    Love your choices! I’ve never seen this hydrangea but I absolutely adore its flower 😀 When considering climbers I also thought about clematis. Niobe lives in my garden and takes cuttings well too so you could really spread it round your island if you wanted. I love its flowers too. Ah… a variegated Solomon’s seal, nice, I love variegated plants too and with white flowers in the shade – just perfect for your island 😀 This has been a fun trip hasn’t it 😀

    Hi Shirl, I’m glad you enjoyed my choices for this challenge. Limelight is a fantastic hardy hydrangea that really outshines the mopheads in my opinion. I’ve never tried taking cuttings from Niobe, thanks for the tip. Yeah I figured there would be lots of nice shady areas from the trees to grow some shade lovers thus the variegated Solomon’s Seal. It’s been a fun trip indeed, thanks for hosting this special meme! 🙂

    Reply

  5. You did change up your last plant, but that is perfectly okay and the reasoning is sound. I love all of these plants too. Glad they’re coming.

    It was nice to have a surprise plant for pick #3 Tina. 🙂 Thanks!

    Reply

  6. Nice choices Racquel. I have been looking at Niobe for a while. My challenge is to find a place for it. I like the Pee Gee hydrangeas…especially like that they bloom on new wood, so I can shape them to my whims.
    Janet

    Thanks Janet. You can’t go wrong with Niobe. I have 3 in my garden and they are stars! Yep Hydrangeas are wonderful with the variety of flower shapes & colors they come in nowadays. No longer a grandma plant in my opinion. 🙂

    Reply

  7. When I first read about the desert island challenged I tried to imagine what my blogging friends would choose. I was right about the first 2 for you!
    I knew it would have to be a hydrangea, and I thought probably the clematis, but then I thought about the peace rose. Well, 2 out of 3 is not bad! 🙂 Good choices Racquel!
    Mine are pansies, rudbeckia and profusion zinnias.
    Have a great weekend!

    Glad I’m glad I was able to throw in a surprise plant for you Linda. I knew everyone would associate the Hydrangea & Clematis as my top faves. You picked some great ones too! Thanks!

    Reply

  8. Racquel,

    Perfect choices! I am so envious of your hydrangea. It’s stunning!

    Cameron

    Hi Cameron, I’m glad you enjoyed my three choices for this challenge. Thanks, Limelight is the showstopper in my garden from Jun-Sep! You should try it in your garden, it is a very low maintenance hydrangea in my opinion.

    Reply

  9. Those are three great choice for you Racquel. You are right, somehow I’m not surprised about picking the hydrangea. When I checked at work last fall we were out of them. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to get one this year.

    Reply

  10. Good choices Racquel and the variegated Solomon’s Seal is a gem. I agree about Niobe – it is the only large flowered Clematis that has proved reliable in my garden. I’m not usually a fan of Hydrangeas but I’m quite taken with yours, which I know you have mentioned before.
    See you on the island!

    Thanks EG! I just adore Solomon’s Seal, it started as a small piece of root and has multiplied happily throughout the shady areas of my garden. Niobe is always a trooper in my opinion, less fussy than some of the large flowering types. Limelight is nothing like the mophead hydrangeas, it doesn’t wilt during the heat of the day and doesn’t need any supplemental watering. You would fall in love with it. 🙂 See you on the island!

    Reply

  11. Posted by skeeter on January 23, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Great choices! I did not think of shade being on the island but after island hoping, I see lots will have trees with them along with my Crepe Myrtle so there will be plenty of shade for shade loving plants. Good thinking on your part…

    Thanks Skeeter, that’s what I was thinking too about all those trees. 🙂 Oh I adore the Crape Myrtle, great pick!

    Reply

  12. Excellent choices. I too am totally smitten with your hydrangea, Racquel. Talk about a focal point. I’ve got several hydrangeas and my one paniculata is rather small yet. Now I know what’s coming. I’m thinking about plants. So far only a hardy fuchsia comes to mind. This is not an easy challenge. Oh yes. I have ‘Niobe’ and she is almost always in bloom spring summer and fall.

    Thank you Grace! I know my Limelight ended up on several wishlists this past year. You will not be disappointed in your Paniculata in a couple of years. Mine is about 5-7 years old now. Sounds like you have some thinking to do with this challenge, the hardy Fushsia is a great first pick! Niobe has always been a diehard in my garden. 🙂

    Reply

  13. Your hydrangea has been such a treat to see all year long Racquel. I don’t blame you for taking it. And the Niobe and Solomon’s Seal are great choices too. Such an array of plants on that island!

    Thanks Beckie. I couldn’t imagine the island without this wonderful hydrangea. 🙂 Isn’t it going to be a beautiful place to be?

    Reply

  14. I remember the “Limelight,” Racquel–I only hope the new one I planted last fall grows to be as beautiful as yours. It’s interesting to see all the different choices on everyone’s posts, but what’s amazing is that there aren’t that many repeats! It’s going to be a colorful island.

    Just read your plans for spring planting; I’m still mulling over the seed catalogs, but it’s hard to limit my wants to realistic plans:)

    Reply

  15. Just beautiful! If anyone can grow clematis if is surely you!!

    Thanks for the compliment Darla! You are such a sweetie! 🙂

    Reply

  16. Racquel,
    I keep hearing about Limelight and would like to have one, but I’m concerned we don’t have enough shade for it.

    Actually mine is planted in part shade Randy. It gets morning sun and afternoon shade and seems perfectly happy in those conditions. 🙂

    Reply

  17. lol, the hydrangea pick doesn’t surprise me!! I guess I’ve been reading your blog long enough to know that!!! Good choices ~ I thought about clematis too but in the end picked others. It was a fun challenge, wasn’t it?!

    Ha! I knew it wouldn’t be a surprise for anyone who had been visiting my blog for any amount of time. Especially since I gushed over it all summer long. 🙂 You picked some wonderful choices too Kathleen, it was a fun challenge indeed. Thanks!

    Reply

  18. No, I can’t say I’m at all surprised at the choice of the Hydrangea. Your other 2 choices are also great. I seriously considered both a Clematis & a Solomon Seal for my list, but your choices are all different from mine.

    I knew I wouldn’t surprise anyone with my first choice MMD! 🙂 Your picks were wonderful too, it was a hard choice for the last two. If we all get deserted together we will have a lovely assortment of plants to enjoy!

    Reply

  19. I would hope my wife would be coming with me to that island, and if that was the case… a hydrangea would be on the list. I want a big white oak for shade and a green chile to roast.

    Aw that’s sweet Wayne, that way you have something pretty to enjoy, something nice to lounge under and something spicy to eat.

    Reply

  20. These are great choices, lovely and cool and soothing. the fun thing about blog discussions like these is that I get to explore blogs I haven’t seen before. I’m glad to have ‘met’ you.

    Thanks Jodi. This was a fun way to get to meet other bloggers, it was nice meeting you too. I enjoyed reading your post. 🙂

    Reply

  21. I picked a mophead hydrangea, but Limelight would be good, too. The Solomon’s Seal was a good choice. I don’t think anyone else picked that one.

    Jan
    Always Growing

    Looks like we have a common love of Hydrangeas. Thanks Jan, I could imagine my shady areas without Solomon’s Seal. 🙂

    Reply

  22. Ah, I love all of those plants. They are all so beautiful!

    Thank you Zach! 🙂

    Reply

  23. All great choices Racquel. I fell in love with Limelight at the nursery last summer. They’re wonderful.

    Thanks Linda! 🙂 I purchased Limelight about 5 years ago & have never been disappointed in it. 🙂

    Reply

  24. I love your choice of ‘Limelight.’ I love hydrangeas, but don’t have this one. Everywhere I look, I see garden bloggers singing its praises. Won’t this be fun, having a big community of gardens?

    Reply

  25. My ship was delayed…so sorry about being a bit late. I’m still trying to make my rounds…I guess I’m too slow;)
    Your choices are perfect for this getaway, Racquel. So far, I haven’t been anywhere where these 3 were chosen, so it’s great to know we’ll be having even more variety! (Actually, I think I remember seeing Solomons Seal somewhere–was it ShadyG’s? I can’t remember…)
    Your hydrangas massive blooms will provide wonderful atmosphere, as will the clematis, which we could stake around the bamboo poles that we’ll use to make our little hut. I’m so excited, I can’t wait to get there. When is the ship sailing, have you heard yet??

    Your paperwhites are looking ready to pop open any minute. I still haven’t posted mine, which I still have at the window, though the blooms feel like paper now…wonder if that’s why they’re called that? The flower feels straw-like once it stops the blooming process, but the flowers have yet to fall off! Maybe that’s because I used 2 shots of vodka on it earlier;)

    Reply

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