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!
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.
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?