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Gardening – My Desert Island Disc Plants

I’ve always liked the Desert Island Disc concept, the one where you get to choose just eight pieces of music to ease the sense of isolation as you while away your days alone on an island in the Caribbean – but I’ve always felt that unless you were lucky enough to get stranded with Mrs Crusoe (or Nigella Lawson) you’d need a bit more than Vaughan Williams to keep you sane. Well here’s my choice of eight flowers to compliment the music; clearly these are purely personal and if you’d rather take along some nice King Edwards and a couple of grape vines instead, then I quite understand!


First choice is the Nerine, a bulb which has fascinated me since I was a boy. The fact it has a summer rest with no water makes it easy to grow and it always flowers around my birthday – September in case you’d forgotten! You don’t need desert island temperatures for the hardy Nerine bowdenii – try it, you won’t be sorry!


Next up is the Azalea – not the most fashionable plant at the moment but one which is indelibly etched in my memory because many years ago I took a seed pod from a war grave in Germany. One of the resulting plants still flowers in my mother’s garden every spring and its powerful scent alone earns it a place on my list.


The Iris family is vast but the big and bouncy tall Bearded Iris is my favourite. I have hundreds of varieties in my garden (the photo shows a few) so the big problem would be selecting just one to take to the island!


Like the Iris my next choice would relish the hot, dry desert island conditions – Coronilla glauca is one of those special plants I ‘discovered’ by accident a few years ago. Now I can’t imagine a garden without finding a spot for this small growing shrub! Delightful!


My next choice would not seem out of place on a desert island – the orchid – although the particular type I prefer would rather be stranded on top of a cool, moist hillside. The Pleione is a tiny little spring flowering species – another of my heirloom plants I have been growing forever and would hate to be without. Captivating!


My last three choices I have grouped together as Marigolds, Sweet Peas and Roses. All of them are as indispensable to this stranded Yorkshireman as tripe and onions. And as for the choice of rose, it would have to be my dad’s favourite – Josephine Bruce – a gorgeous deep red colour with a fantastic scent. The next best thing to Mrs Crusoe!



Jonathan Wild

Garden Consultant and Up a Creek with no Paddle!


This article appeared in the Great Barr Gazette, a local magazine delivered to 16,000 homes in

Great Barr and the surrounding area’s.