Friday, July 22, 2011

The Monkeyflower Blooms

What a strange name for this native plant.  Monkeyflower.  My research says it was named because the bloom resembles a monkey's face.  I don't see the resemblance.  Do you?  But then I haven't spent all that much time up close and personal with any monkeys.  So maybe.... but something else I did find in researching this.  There are different varieties of native monkey flowers and I don't know which one this is.  Since my skills at identifying plants from the various guides are pretty minimal still, I'll have to ask someone at the park district.   In the meantime, I think it might be an Allegheny Monkeyflower, an endangered specie in Maine.  The plant came to our yard as a give at last year's Wood County park volunteer recognition dinner.  At the time I got the plant, I didn't know anything about it.  I didn't know if it wanted sun or shade, wet or dry soil, or what.  So it didn't get any attention, lingering in a small pot for most of last summer.  Late in the year as I found my interest in natives growing, I thought I should at least get it planted.  Later I could find out where it belonged in our yard and relocate it if necessary.  So what a delight it was to find it blooming the other day. 

One of the things I'm coming to realize is that we can treat and use native plants much the way we did  our old imported exotic ornamentals, but without the harmful use of pesticides and fertilizers.  Those of us gardeners who like to dig around in the dirt, can amend the soil with compost, and mulch to keep the weeds down.  We can water the native plants to help them get established.  We can put them in places that might not be perfect for them and see what happens.  In our yard, most of the soil is rock hard clay soil.   And even though we're constantly surprised to find what just grows naturally here, I suspect that some of the natives I want to put in specific areas of the landscape just won't be happy without some nuturing.  I'm glad to help them along. 

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