Well, that depends on where you mean. I’ve got favorites for the deep water, favorites for the margins and a favorite streambed plant. This issue I want to talk about my first choice for a waterfall and stream.
The Golden Monkey Flower is not only a great plant for spring and summer color but is also a perfect selection for plant filtration. Any plant that grows in a streambed grows a mat of fibrous roots into the bottom of the stream. The roots are just like filter mats; they are loaded with surface area that harbors beneficial bacteria, turning the stream into an efficient biological filter. The Golden Monkey Flower has fine roots that grow into a tight, thick layer, making this plant one of the best filter plants of all.
Spreading best in the cool running water, the Monkey Flower puts out a succession of yellow flowers from mid spring through late summer. As the flowers appear on the spikes, another plantlet is creeping out further into the stream, ready to produce the next flowers. The dense carpet of foliage trails along the water and even into the damp edge of the stones along the outside of the stream.
If another patch of Monkey Flower is needed elsewhere in the water garden, simply pull up a clump of plants and plug them in somewhere else. The Monkey Flower is not just for the waterfall, it makes a nice addition anywhere along the edge of the pond where a low-growing accent is needed. The best thing about planting these little beauties in a waterfall or in the rocks surrounding the pond is they do well with their roots inserted between the stones without soil. It’s like rooting a houseplant in a glass of water. Once the roots spread out, they capture soil that is suspended in the water so the plant ends up with soil around its roots.
Golden Monkey Flower is worth trying as an excellent streamside plant, but better yet, as an extremely valuable filtration supplement.
About the IWGS
The International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society is a non-profit, international resource for education, research, conservation and networking, dedicated to the water garden community, professional and hobbyist alike. For information, please call 540-337-9344 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. See us also on the web at www.iwgs.org.
About the Author
Keith Folsom is the Executive Director of the IWGS. He and his wife own Springdale Water Gardens in Greenville, Virginia and FiberTech Virginia in Waynesboro, Virginia. He has been involved in the water garden industry for 28 years.