This post is for Gilly, who wrote in her blog Winds of Change about her pots of mimulus.
Here in Southern California, Orange Monkeyflower, or Mimulus aurantiacus grows wild in our Santa Monica Mountains. They're shrubby, with woody stems, and grow in full sun. The flowers are a beautiful shade of pale orange, and display a flash of creamy white inside the throat - the color of a creamsicle ice cream bar.
There are other wild species of mimulus that grow here, too, like these yellow ones, Mimulus brevipes. It looks like its cousin, Mimulus guttatus, only the Stream monkeyflower grows in wet habitats - like you might expect - while the shy brevipes likes dry rocky places, and grows beneath larger plants.
There are many species of mimulus, and these versatile plants enjoy a wide range of habitats - making their hybrids and selected varieties great garden plants. You can get annual Monkeyflower seeds or bedding plants in all kind of bright colors, with colorfully spotted and speckled flowers.
The drought-tolerant species are great for those who want a pretty yet less thirsty garden. Horticulturalists have selected and bred special plants of Mimulus aurantiacus with flowers in a range of colors, for gardeners to choose.
Here is one in a pretty plummy color at a garden I toured earlier this spring.
But I always like best the monkeyflowers I see as I drive up the winding S-curves of Topanga Canyon Boulevard. They cling like the monkeys they're named after to the tan rocks of the cliff that rise vertically above the pavement.
I've taken hundreds and hundreds of photos of monkeyflowers, and I think I can never quite capture their perfect creamsicle color. But I can't stop trying.