From my garden journal: Bicolor Monkshood
(Aconitum x cammarum, var. Eleanor & Stainless Steel)
Eleanor is a very beautiful Monkshood with small, helmet shaped, ghostly white blooms tipped in navy blue. Unfortunately these flowers appear in clusters all along a tall threadlike stem that isnÂt strong enough to support their weight. Thusly staking is mandatory, something that is hard to do because it is difficult to find stakes long enough for the 5-6 foot stems.
Stainless Steel is closely related to Eleanor but is a superior plant. The 2-3 foot flower stalks are thicker so staking isnÂt necessary. The powder blue flowers arenÂt quite as striking as those on the aforementioned cultivar but are attractive in their own right. It also bloomed earlier coinciding nicely with the white foxgloves planted nearby.
It is a bit too early to tell if they will repeat bloom. Eleanor is just finishing up her first flush and Stainless Steel was killed due to soil contamination.
Of the two cultivars Stainless Steel is more satisfying. IÂll definitely try him again next year. I should mention that neither is tolerant of deep shade. They will do ok in partial to light shade but anything deeper than that and you can forget it. This surprised me because the white foxgloves I have planted in full shade performed well while the bicolor monkshood in front of it (and in less shade) has yet to get over 6 inches.
Other Names: Wolvesbane
Bloom Time: early to mid summer
Exposure: full sun to light shade
Height & Spread: 5-6Â x 1-2Â; 2-3Â x 1Â
Planting Time: seeds in autumn, plants in spring
Soil: requires moist soil; hates drying out
WARNING!!! All parts (especially the root) are deadly poisonous! Even handling it has caused sensitive individuals to become sick. Always wear gloves whenever working with any part of the plant and don't place in high traffic areas where curious children can get at it.
Folklore: A highly magical plant it was a common ingredient in witches flying ointments and was thought to cure lycanthropy. It gets the name wolvesbane from the old practice leaving out meat laced with the root to kill wolves. During the Dark Ages and following Renaissance it was illegal to grow monkshood in many European countries because of the potential threat for intrigue related murder.