Black Magic, Stream Orchids, and a Wet Monkey in a Tub
Our wet monkey, Mimulus cardinalis, has started blooming. There are two kinds of monkey flowers, ones that like wet soil and ones that like dry soil. The dry monkeys (also sometimes called sticky monkeys, preferably with a faux-British accent) are starting to get listed as Diplacus, instead of Mimulus, which makes some sense to me, even though the switch also causes some confusion. There’s not really anything similar about the wet and dry types — not the foliage, the form, the habitat, the cultural needs, and not the flowers — so I’m not sure how they got grouped together in the first place. Las Pilitas has a page devoted to the various monkey flowers that talks about the differences. I’ve grown a few different types of wet monkey flowers, but the only one in our garden now is the scarlet monkey flower in our bog planting.
Our bog planting is set inside an old cast-iron bathtub dug into the ground and covered over with mulch. The idea is that the water drains more slowly than it would in open ground, so we don’t have to irrigate these water-loving plants as often as we would otherwise, a way to keep our garden low-water without excluding all the plants we’re interested in growing. We filled it with 2/3 soil and 1/3 compost, which is a ton of amendment by our standards. The only outlet from the tub is the open drain at the bottom and we water it the same amount and on the same irrigation zone as the moderate-water section of the yard where we have the blueberries, the mock orange, the heucheras, the astilbes, and our young citrus tree, plants that you wouldn’t normally expect to share an irrigation zone with a colocasia, which is often grown directly in ponds and fountains.
Colocasia “Black Magic,” aka Elephant Ears for its big leaves, is a very cool plant. It’s in the low part of our yard, so we don’t have a good view of the black stems, though the stems are my favorite feature of the plant, even more so than the leaves. We also have Yerba Buena (Satureja douglasii) and Yellow-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium californicum) hanging out under the colocasia, and a canna growing behind it. This is the third summer for the planting, and the colocasia has steadily increased, while the canna seems to be fading.
Last month the Stream Orchid, (Epipactis gigantea) was the main bloomer in the tub. It still has a few blooms, but it’s mostly finished now. Not a showy flower, but interesting up close.
I feel like the scarlet monkey flower doesn’t even have the same color tone as most California natives. It’s more like the nasturtiums which come up as volunteers in our yard. A yellow one recently came up in the bamboo behind the bathtub, so we’re hoping it will ramble out into the monkey flower patch before the monkeys stop blooming. It’s a little surprising to me that a California native would combine so well with colocasias and nasturtiums, but I guess I should know better by now. Photos of wet and dry monkey flower buds (the one similarity I find between the two kinds), the yellow nasturtium, and a raunchy close up of the stream orchid are below.
Similar when the buds are closed. After the buds open, not so much.
Yikes! That thing seems like maybe it should have an R-rating, though I’m not sure whether that would be for violence or sexual content.
This entry was posted on Sunday, July 12th, 2009 at 11:21 am and is filed under california natives, plants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.