This time lets talk about everyone’s favorite forgotten House in the South, The Gardener Kings. This house contains both First Men and Andal blood and basically developed the Reach into the power house it is today. Its a house that often gets overlooked which is a shame because they did some real neat sh*t.
Garth Greenhand is pretty much responsible for all of the Reach being the Reach. He is basically A Song of Ice and Fire Johnny Appleseed and was the first official First Men King. Being so old/from before “recorded” history so accounts vary because knowing everything is overrated. He really pushed the agricultural benefits of the Reach. Being first or knowing to Farm is not the reason why Garth Greenhand makes this list. No Garth is on this list because he is the living definition of John Arryn’s quote “The seed is strong”. Legend says that maiden’s in every town had twins or triplets nine moons after he visited. No that may not be true but the sheer number of main houses in the Reach that trace themselves back to his is enough to get him on this list. He sowed the ‘seeds’ for houses Oakheart, Redwyne, Florent, Ball, Peake, Fossoway, Tarly, Crane, Beesbury and Rowans. In fact the only Reach families that don’t directly stem from this man’s mighty oaken trunk are Tryell, Hightower, Caswell, Merryweather, Mullendore and Ashford.
Garth III, the Great
This Garth was pretty different from his namesake. Instead of sowing seeds and planting trees he conquered the Western part of the current Reach. This includes his conquest of Old Oak, Red Lake and the Golden Grove. This brought the Gardeners right up to the borders of the Lannister Lands and into conflict with the Kings of the Rock. He did this with a mix of conquest, defensive pact and friendships. The common threat of Lions and Krakens (metaphorical) made this slightly easier.
Garland II, The Bridegroom
Garland the Bridegroom did much the same as Garth III but in the South. He brought Hightower and that great family under the Gardener “reach” through marriage. His daughter married Lord Hightower and he put aside his wives (yes plural) and married Lord Hightower’s daughter. Not much murder but sometimes peace is harder than war.
Garth VII, the Goldenhand
Unlike a current Lannister the seventh Garth to sit the Oakenseat did not in fact have a golden hand. I don’t actually know where that nickname came from. And it’s not like it came from all the peace treaties he shook on. Nope he is a much of a blood and conquest King as the Gardeners get. As a boy of ten-and-two he took the throne and had to defend his realm from a Dornish invasion. He pushed the men of King Ferris Fowler all the way back through the Prince’s Pass (though it wasn’t called that yet). He didn’t stop with that threat subdued. He looked west. The Ironborn had occupied the Shield Islands for many years now and used them as a base to raid up and down the Mander. Garthie boy saw what he needed to do a drove the monsters out from their islands and back into the sea. He then settled his fiercest warriors here to protect the Reach from the Ironborn and provide early warning. It has never fallen back to the Ironborn even through Robert’s Rebellion. After this the King of the Rock and Strom King allied to carve up Garth’s kingdom. This was not going to happen while Garth the Goldenhand sat the Oakenseat. Instead of fighting them both combined he sowed the seeds of doubt between his two rivals. In what was later called the Battle of Three Armies he defeated both his rivals. His rule lasted until he was 93 when he died (he wasn’t even a crazy old man at the time either).
Garth XI, the Painter
The Andals despite their best efforts they never really made it far past the riverlands in their conquest. They mainly spread by marriages to the different, now unified Kings, because they were tired and had started fighting amongst themselves. Nonetheless the Gardeners fell on hard times because of poor leadership. The Dornish even sacked Highgarden and burnt down the Oakenseat. Garth XI took over and well things, umm, changed. He set about pushing the Dornish back to the sandy wasteland they called home. Lord Hightower said that the Red Mountains were Green until Garth painted them in Dornish blood.
Mern IX was the last Gardener King and one of the Last Gardeners ever. He was King of the Reach when Ageon the Conquer landed on the banks of the Blackwater rush. After The Iron King, Strom King and King in the Vale all fell to the Dragons he allied with The King of the Rock to stem the invasion and protect his Kingdom. Except he charged dragons on horse, in dry summer, with the wind in his face. Lo, no one ever called him Mern the Wise. Him and all his sons died that day and house Gardener’s line was ended.