Sunday afternoon conversation in Greenwich Village:
J: Shirl at Shirl’s Gardenwatch has asked what three plants we’d take with us to a desert island. What would you choose, B?
B: Who’s Shirl? Wait, where?
J: On Blotanical.
J: Yeah, the place I’m always hanging out, so that you never get to use the computer.
B: Ohhh. Well, it’s too bad it’s a desert island, because I’d choose lilacs, but I don’t think lilacs grow particularly well on a desert island.
J: It can be any plant at all! Lilacs, too!
B: But, J, lilacs bloom in the spring, and would the desert island have spring? Besides, how would you water them? And they need cold to bloom, don’t they?
J: No, no, no. Any plant at all, even a lilac! This is a hypothetical question.
B: Well, the thing that makes lilacs special is I don’t think anyone has found out yet how to get them to bloom any time other than spring. You can get tulips year round, and roses, and chrysanthemums, but I’ve never seen lilacs except in May. I’d choose a fragrant, dark purple lilac. So long as it bloomed, even on a desert island.
So, that’s B’s first choice. Mine, too.
Lilacs bloom around the time of B’s birthday, so he has pleasant associations with them. Which led me to think about the flowers that make me feel wonderful. And, you know, nothing makes me feel better than seeing a bunch of daffodils blooming after a long winter, just when I think that I can’t take another snowy day or muddy, mucky walk across the garden (and in Washington County, New York, one sort of day follows fast on the heels of the other in April). I might choose “Van Sion,” because it’s so crazy and wonderful.
But then I might choose a simple white narcissus with a small fragrant cup. They glow in the April sun. Very hopeful.
And that leaves me with one more plant for this beautiful desert island landscape, and I think I would choose it in honor of Mr. Robinson, a gardener of the first order who hired me to take care of his lawn and gardens when I was a teenager. He was an inspiration and a gentleman. And he had a beautiful larch tree at the turnaround of his driveway. B and I planted a larch at the bottom of our driveway a few years back in memory of Mr. Robinson. I love larches because of their soft, deciduous needles, their beautiful fall color, and their slightly drooping shape. Ours isn’t as tall yet as the one I’d like to take to the desert island and won’t be for many years, so here’s a photo from the Web. Ah, the larch!
Daffodil, lilac, larch: Three plants for the desert island. Added to everyone else’s choices, wow, what a fantasy island!