Survivor plants on Alcatraz Island

Flowers at the Alcatraz Gardens

In 2005, the Garden Conservancy and the Parks Conservancy funded the Alcatraz Island Cultural Landscape Inventory (CLI). As part of this study, surveying the island for "surviving" ornamental plants was done. These "survivors" as they are lovingly referred to, are also called heirloom plants. Amazingly, the study revealed that almost 200 species of plants were still growing on the island. Without a gardener's hand to nurture and protect these plants, this is no small feat. Over 40 years had passed since the gardens were last tended!

Among the survivors are daffodils, fuchsias, agapanthus, pelargoniums, various succulents, fig trees, apple trees, walnut trees, artichokes, scented bearded iris and roses. In fact, we have iris that smell like bubble gum and root beer! But most renowned is the Rose "Bardou Job" found growing behind the Warden's house. 

These survivor plants are from various parts of the world, yet they all thrived on Alcatraz. Perhaps what is most interesting is the way these plants can tell a story about how they coped, why they were brought here and the gardeners who had once tended them. 

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