Some time ago Tina at In the Garden wrote a post about her "signature plant." Several other bloggers took her suggestion, writing about their own signature plants, and I wanted to join in, albeit rather late as always. Just as I was about to finish a post on my signature plant, everybody was jumping on a boat with Shirl of Shirl's GardenWatch to set sail for a desert island. I missed the first boat while I was digging up my signature plant and trying to decide on two others to take. Fortunately, I found a slow dinghy headed the same way, so I hope there's still room for a few more plants on that island.
It's not easy, as everyone has found, to pick only three plants to take with you to a desert island. I am going to assume there are a few trees and some lush vegetation already on the island, so I'm going to stick with flowers. One of them is my signature plant--see if you can guess which one it might be.
One plant I couldn't live without would have to be a rose. Is there any other flower that can rival the beauty of a perfect rose? I think not. The rose would be my muse, because some of my time--assuming I had paper and pen--would be spent writing. A lovely tea rose with large blooms and a delicate fragrance would be wonderful, and it would probably grow in this fantasy world. In reality, though, I have no luck with hybrid roses, so a carefree Knockout Rose like this one from my real garden would be just fine, too.
For splashes of color all around, I would also take some zinnia seeds. These hardy annuals could grow anywhere and give me lots of color to cheer me up as autumn sets in. If I should happen to be stuck on the island for more than a year, I could always collect the seeds for another planting.
And finally, for my third choice I would have to take along some purple coneflowers. I'm drawn to pink flowers, and these tall beauties would definitely make me smile and help me forget my loneliness. Besides, they are bee and butterfly magnets, which would give me some company. Can you imagine the exotic butterflies these might attract on a desert island? Mary recently admitted that she talks to the birds in her backyard; well, I'm sure I would start talking to my winged visitors as well. After all, if Tom Hanks could talk to a ball named Wilson, I could surely talk to butterflies!
So which of these three is my signature plant? Can you guess? You might think it is the rose. After all, that is my name, and it is the avatar I've chosen on Blogger. But most roses are rather fussy about their surroundings and can be high maintenance. I don't consider myself either of those. Or you might think I would pick the zinnia, since I've raved about them since August. But this is the first year I've planted zinnias, so it remains to be seen if this will be a long-term relationship or just an infatuation.
No, the plant that symbolizes me, my signature plant, is the coneflower, Echinacea Purpurea. I extolled its virtues in a Bloom Day post last July, so I won't repeat all the details here, but just give you a recap of the main reasons I am so attached to this plant.
When I first began gardening in earnest, I decided I wanted to plant some of those pretty pink flowers I saw in so many gardens in the area. I didn't even know their name! I dug up my first perennial flowerbed and planted 9 or 10 coneflowers, and lo and behold, they bloomed that first year, thriving and coming back in even greater numbers the next year and the year after that. When we moved several years ago, I left most of the flowers for the next owners, but I did take a few coneflowers for a new garden; they now reside in three of my flowerbeds.
I am a loyal person who enjoys tradition, which is partly why I have a special bond with this faithful plant. Like me, it's native to this area, one species growing here long before any settler set foot upon the Prairie. My ancestors settled here over 130 years ago when the land was still a prairie, and for generations they have worked the soil and conserved it for posterity. Like the coneflower, I have deep roots to this land.
Don't let those pretty pink blooms fool you: this is no delicate beauty fussy about its environment. Because it's a native, it's a very sturdy plant that grows easily here and often reseeds itself, multiplying the number of blooms in my garden. I'm no fragile "shrinking violet" either, and I'm certainly not "high maintenance"! My parents have traced our family tree back to the 1600's without a hint of noble heritage; like the coneflower, I come from sturdy peasant stock:) As for the multiplying, hmm, well, I do have four children . . .
Analogies aside, there are many reasons to love this plant, a major one being its attraction to bees, butterflies, birds, and even the occasional grasshopper. All summer long my garden is alive with humming and fluttering insects, many of whom are so entranced by the large seed-bearing globes that they don't even notice a camera poised nearby. In the fall, once the petals have dropped and the plant dries up, the goldfinches take over, enjoying the seedheads left behind.
We gardeners often talk about "winter interest." What could be more interesting than these tall flowers still standing in the garden with their warm winter hats on?