Monday, November 1, 2010

We all want this plant

The holy grail of the plant world, the most desired, coveted, and beloved in all the Kingdom Plantae is __________.  What was that?  You thought I would tell you?  I wouldn’t presume to know what your favorite is and surely every gardener has a different one!

b (29)

After moaning about my upcoming move last week, and the accompanying feelings of desolation, isolation, and consternation that go with leaving a garden behind, I have decided to look ahead.  Momentarily at least.  The houses we’ve considered are what I like to term “garden challenged,” meaning no garden.  I don’t count a lilac bush and a few scrawny looking pansies as a garden.  So what would be the first thing I would plant?

“First” sort of implies essential, does it not?  Something you cannot live without another day…like the internet, Velcro, Pepper Jack cheese, or supportive undergarments.  Since installing an entire garden in one season is not in the time/funds budget, I’ll have to settle for just one selection.  No doubt the rest of my time will be spent painting walls, tiling floors, or ripping out a Mary Kay pink Jacuzzi tub. 

oct4 066

What are the qualities of something essential?  Useful, beautiful, sturdy, hardy, low-maintenance…well, you get the idea.  And so, with much thought and no further ado, the first plant to transform my new lawn (this is Alaska, yards are almost always a lawn) to a garden will be: Pinus aristata, the bristlecone pine.  It’s a small specimen tree, not very romantic but useful as a diversion or focal point if there are lots of blue tarps, garbage cans, or junk vehicles around.  I’m thinking with a skirting of Alopecurus pratensis ‘Variegatus’, golden foxtail grass, it would be simple, eye-catching, and satisfying even in winter.  And if I am to be removing a giant pink tub and ripping up carpet, I won’t have time for much else.

What would be the first/essential plant you would put in a new garden with a blank slate?

19 comments:

Helen Lewis said...

It depends on where my garden would be. I planted a fast growing shade tree where we are now because it is hot here in the summer. Shade trees make the environment cooler and it reduces our electric bills. The second tree would be a fruit tree. I enjoy harvesting something to eat from my own garden. The third would be an ornamental tree. The I can sit in the shade, eat the fruit from my fruit tree while I appreciate the beauty of my ornamental tree.
Greetings to you from California!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have thought about your situation a lot lately. With the weather changing and garden chores slowing down I have had time to mull over the option of what I would do IF I were moving to a new garden. I think the first thing to do would be to see how you are going to use your garden. Which windows/door you will be look out the most. From this window/door view my garden would begin. I think your forever green tree and grass planting is a great beginning. I would start close to the house and work my way out. There is so much to consider. Where will you like to sit in the garden and swat mosquitos, I mean view the garden. A place for dining out, reading etc. You are going to have so much fun. Get those indoor chores accomplished while you are stuck inside. Spring will be calling you outside before you know it.

Mark Willis said...

Can I "hedge my bets" please? I vote for 1) The herb Thyme -- useful (I use it in loads of different recipes), but also decorative if you let it flower; and 2)Cornus or Dogwood, which is hugely decorative (especially in Winter) as well as being easy to maintain, and available in lots of different varieties if you choose to start a collection.

Elephant's Eye said...

I would start, as I did, with cuttings of my favourites. Brought with me from the last garden. The plants I bought, later, were chosen more carefully. We plant trees for shade, but I hear your desire for winter interest first. And perhaps there won't BE an evil pink tub to demolish???

Laurrie said...

Simple, eye catching, and satisfying in winter... you have the essential formula and I like your idea of a structured conifer with some loose waving grass. Can't go wrong with that combination. Here in New England the first thing to plant would be a maple tree. Shade, color, structure, focal point.... and you just have to have one here, it's a law.

biobabbler said...

A tomato plant. =) My gardening is 99% food, and they make my husband pretty happy. And it gets hot here, so they're pretty happy.

Looking forward to reading about your plans, and how you approach crafting your new world.

Kate said...

Hmmm... that's a toughie. I think mine would be a Flowering Almond. They're so pretty and since they take forever to start blooming I'd need to get her in the ground asap.

PS! If you do come across a pink jacuzzi hot tub I call dibs. Man! Would that make my cranky neighbor crankier. ;>)

Jim Groble said...

Hosta, big, big, big hosta. jim

Benjamin Vogt said...

Shrubs and trees. Start with things that will define the bones of the space and bring in wildlife, but may take a long time to get going. That's vague. Viburnum, chokecherry, chokeberry, crabapple (Mrs).

Marguerite said...

I love your choice of a tree. They are the backbone of any garden and when we moved last year the first thing on my shopping list was trees. Of course, I couldn't find it within myself to confine my choice to just one. So I bought yellow and white birch, red oak, butternut, white pine and white spruce.

Jennifer@threedogsinagarden said...

Are you sure you want to get rid of the pink tub?- Just kidding!! I think you are wise to choose an evergreen that will look great and add presence year round. If it was me I would build on this first tree with other evergreens or trees that will add structure to the new garden.

Susan said...

I have too many favorites and it is hard to imagine a garden without these: Chionanthus virginicus, White Fringetree, is a favorite because the flowers are so unusual and the sweet fragrance seems to gently drift through the garden. Aesculus x carnea 'Briotti' has wonderful flowers that draw in the hummingbirds. Heptacodium, 7 Son Flower, is a new addition to my garden. I love its late season interest. Also, the magnolias are a must - Butterflies, Sweetbay and Leonard Messel. With winter coming on, I'm already trying to fast forward to spring and flowers!

Melanie said...

What fun, I planted hardy roses about a dozen different kinds. I like there fabulous scent and colour. They flower until the frost comes too.

Gloria, Dakota Garden said...

I like your choice - anything evergreen. When I started my garden I could see the neighbors trash can and other trash. (They didn't bother to tarp it) from my dining room window. I bought a Medora Juniper and carried it around, placing it and going into the house to see how well it covered. It has grown into a beautiful tall, not too wide tree. Perfect camouflage!

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

None would come, even as cuttings. I would want a clean slate to get the creative juices flowing. I need to feel and live the space before any plant is planted. The lighting plays a big part. First I do the hardscape and circulation. Then the plants arrive. If trees exist, they stay and I build around them. When I leave my property, the plants get to stay rooted. I hope I gave them a good home.

Crazy Garden Lady said...

No Aussie backyard is complete without a beautiful eucalyptus tree, so that would be the first thing - the thing to act as my focal point - that I'd plant.

The rest could wait as long as I had my gum tree.

And I'd want to keep the pink hot tub. It's all a bit tacky fabulous but I could work with that!

The Violet Fern said...

Oh how I know how it is to leave a garden behind but so exciting to start new. I must agree, my first choice would be something evergreen living in a winter climate as well. I planted blue spruce and white pine. Look very forward to seeing your new garden bloom.

mike 'hazeltree' thompson said...

over here in southern england i would plant a viburnum plicatum, no garden is complete without one...oh and yes one must have a...

Grace Peterson said...

A tree definitely. I'm glad to see you agree.

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