Friday, July 1, 2016
Monardella macrantha 'Marian Sampson'
Monardella macrantha 'Mavis Sampson' is one of my new favorite plants. I got three of these last year from Far Reaches, and all of them did well, although the one shown in the picture did the best. This one is planted in probably the driest and sunniest part of my garden. It is on a very slight slope and the sprinkler system does not reach it. Last summer I did water it every once in a while because I wanted it to establish well, and I have found that even drought tolerant plants do better with some watering, especially when they are first getting established. The other two plants of this are on more of a slope in an area of the garden that the sprinkler system does reach, and it's an area that receives a little bit more shade (although it would still be considered full sun). Both of those plants, while doing well, are not as big as this one. Although you can't really tell the size of this plant from the picture, I would say it is about two feet across.
As you can see from the picture, this monardella is fairly flat to the ground, and that makes it somewhat of a challenge in deciding where to put it in the garden. Obviously, it would not do in a regular herbaceous type border, nor would it do in any spot where it would be in danger of being swamped by its neighbors. However, it would do nicely in a rock garden, or in a bed populated by taller solitary plants, like opuntias or yuccas. I have also seen it successfully grown in containers. There is a good example of this at Far Reaches.
This plant is a California native which has proven to be so hardy that it was a Plant Select selection in 2014. Plant Select, for those who don't know is a joint project between Colorado State University and the Denver Botanical Garden. Its mission is to find and recommend plants suitable for growing in that area. I have found that almost all Plant Select plants do quite well in my garden, even though it is considerably wetter and milder than the climate that its plants are aimed at. On their website Plant Select calls this plant Hummingbird Trumpet Mint, which gives a clue as to its appeal to hummingbirds.These wonderful blooms, by the way, last all summer.
In googling this plant, I came across an article in Pacific Horticulture magazine, found here, which sets forth the history of this plant in great detail. This was a Pacific Plant Promotion plant, offered in the year 2000 by Pacific Horticulture magazine. I was on the board of that magazine at the time (I think) and I remember voting in favor of the Pacific Plant Promotion program, but I did not, at the time, fully appreciate this particular plant. So apparently it has taken it this many years, and the efforts of Plant Select to really get this great plant out into mainstream horticulture.