If you had to take just eight plants with you to a desert island, what would they be? Of course, it doesn’t have to be a hot, dry island or one in the tropics, just one where any of your favourite plants will grow.
Top of my list would be viburnum tinus. Evergreen, totally tough and bombproof, stands no pruning or heavy hacking, and white flowers for six months of the year. OK, there is no scent, but how often do you go and sniff the flowers when there’s a foot of snow on the ground? It will grow in sun or shade (heavy shade limits the number of flowers), and is pretty adaptable to soils, although very dry or waterlogged ones should be avoided.
Left unchecked, viburnum tinus will grow to ten feet with a similar spread. V. t. ‘Eve Price’ grows to a similar size, but the growth is more compact and the flower buds are carmine, while V. t. ‘Gwenllain’ has flowers with a pink tinge. Any of these would make a good hedge which can be left to grow informally or clipped.
I’ll now go and think about my other seven Desert Island plants, but I’d be interested to hear of anyone else’s selections.