the mysterious island in my back garden


One of the movies on heavy VHS-cassette rotation when my boys were young was Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island. Hot air balloon escape from a Civil War-era prison, crash landing near an uncharted island to fight for survival against monster-size crabs, chickens, and bees — all exquisitely rendered by the special effects artistry of Ray Harryhausen. Riveting stuff (and the boys liked it too, ha ha…)

A single truss bloomed in March this year, with satellite trusses forming like elephant ears in May.

Now I’ve flipped the script on the bees. Watching them frenzy over my Tree Dandelion, Sonchus palmensis, I have to wonder if the local bees feel they’ve wandered into a mysterious island of their own. Up and down the street dandelions come in the garden-size variety, but buzz over our fence and the dandelion is as big as a tree. And there may be more than one soon, because it’s apparently happy enough here to self-sow. For zones 9b-11.

Self-sown seedling of Sonchus palmensis, lower right rosette.

Coming from what are to me the ultimate mysterious islands, filled with one-off, eccentric, and just plain gorgeous flora, the Canaries, Sonchus palmensis turns the back garden into an adventure, for me and the bees.

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6 Responses to the mysterious island in my back garden

  1. Nell z6b/7a Va says:

    The self-sowing is such excellent news — multiplying the time your garden’s inhabited by the spirit of the Mysterious Island.

  2. Elaine says:

    The Mysterious Island was always one of my favourites too. Your towering dandelion looks beautiful but I hope it is not as vigorous as the common dandelion. This year they are numerous and prolific. I have three 5 gallon buckets filled with just seed heads that I have picked off of plants that self seeded in my veg garden. Needless to say they are not as welcome as your big Sonchus.

  3. Kris P says:

    I’ve looked at that plant on Annie’s site several times. I feel my willpower slipping. I know you just asked yourself: How much willpower does she actually have? Or maybe I’m just projecting my own thoughts on you đŸ˜‰

  4. ks says:

    My offspring watched Swiss Family Robinson seemingly every other day -that was their castaway flick. I had to exit the room when it came on. When they weren’t watching that they were watching Oklahoma.

  5. Denise says:

    @Elaine, another fan of MI! I’ve tried to transplant a couple seedlings and they die off, but in the ground are thriving. For now it doesn’t seem too scary prolific…
    @Kris, it’s not a plant to tempt everyone but it does have a unique presence!
    @ks, of course SFR too, that’s how I learned of tiger traps! John Mills was fab.

  6. Denise says:

    @Nell, may the spirit of the mysterious island live on, no matter what plants I grow!

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