gazania in a monkey’s head

So, back in May, right? I’m noodling around in the Sally (yes, I know the Salvation Army opposes marriage equality, but they still provide services to poor folks and since I live nearby, I like to stop in now and then and slip them a few bucks; I’m vocal about my support for marriage quality, but I’m not going to ace out poor folks just to get back at the Sally, and anyway same-sex marriage has been legal in Iowa for a few years now, so let’s not get sidetracked from oh lawdy it’s too late). And what do I see? A ceramic boxlike thing with a monkey’s head on it.

And I snatch it off the shelf. I know immediately, right then, I’m buying it.

no evil

“You’re buying a tissue holder with a chimpanzee’s head on it?” my friend asked. And I realize I’m not holding a boxlike thing with a monkey’s head; I’m holding a tissue holder with a chimpanzee’s head. Easy mistake to make.

“It’s not a tissue holder,” I tell her. “It’s a planter. Or it’s going to be.” She gives me that patient no-point-in-discussing-it look, which I get so often. At the checkout counter, a short woman wearing a sweater with a teddy bear holding some balloons on the front says, “Oh, I’ve always liked that tissue holder. That’ll be four dollars.”

Four bucks for a planter with a chimpanzee’s head. That’s a bargain. In fact, there are four chimpanzee faces on it. See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil, and a fourth face which I believe is Contemplating a Little Evil.

So since I now own a planter, I need a plant. We head off to the nearest garden center, where I wander around aimlessly, looking at a staggering array of plants, all of which are labeled with detailed information about the amount of water required, the amount of light necessary, the proper pH level, appropriate moon cycle for planting, the expected growth size of the plant, the size and color and dimension of its blooms, the Latin name of the plant, whether or not its edible and how best to prepare it, the etymology of its common name, which chapter the plant appears in Professor Snape’s Potions textbook.

I see a plant called a Gazania. It has odd, primitive-looking leaves and  a name that sounds like a fictional nation in a Marx Brothers movie. I snatch it off the shelf. I know immediately, right then, I’m buying it.

gazania in a bag

It turns out you can’t actually plant a Gazania (or anything else, for that matter, in a tissue holder on account of a tissue holder doesn’t have a bottom. You need a bottom in a planter, else the plant just falls out. I figured that out my ownself. So you have to plant the Gazania in a small planter, then somehow weasel the leaves through the tissue opening. If you take your time and are careful, it can be done. It can also be done if you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing and just try shit until it works.

My friend’s friend said, “It’ll die. It needs a bigger pot. It’s got to have muttermutter sunlight. It’s supposed to be planted muttermutter.” “It’s a Gazania,” I said. “In a monkey’s head. If it lasts a week, I’ll be happy. Anything beyond that is gravy. And besides, I piss on the nation of your birth.”

I cannot abide a naysayer.

gazania inna monkey head

Anyway, I was happy. Stupidly and completely happy. I had a Gazania in a monkey’s head. How many folks can say that? If it died, so what? Four bucks for the monkey’s head, four bucks for the Gazania — hell, you pay more than that for a movie (I saw The Heat with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock last week — it’s hilarious, y’all should go see it; it won’t bring you as much joy as a Gazania in a monkey’s head, but very few things will, you know?).

And hey, it didn’t die. In fact, in a couple of weeks, it blossomed. Which was pretty much a shock on account of I didn’t even know it was a flower. I had a flowering Gazania in a monkey’s head. Crazy-ass, wild yellow flowers. Gaudy bastards, with a red blaze down the center of each petal.

I was over the moon.


Look at those flowers. They look like something a child would draw. A child who’s seen too much Speed Racer.

And it hasn’t stopped. It just keeps on continuing to blossom. One flower withers and dies, and another takes its place. Sometimes two takes its place. I trim off the dying flowers and this thing just keeps pushing out new flowers, like Octomom.

I swear, no power in the ‘verse can stop it.

more gazania

Well, okay. I know that’s not true. I know it’ll die in the fall. Maybe. Actually, I don’t have a clue what it’ll do in the fall. But probably it’ll die, right? And that’s okay. On account of it’s been the best eight bucks I’ve ever…well, no. That’s almost certainly not true either. I’m sure I’ve spent eight bucks in lots of better ways, though I can’t think of any at the moment. Still, it was a really great eight bucks, no mistake.

Also? I may start a website And I’ll be sure to thank the Sally for giving me the idea.

13 thoughts on “gazania in a monkey’s head

  1. I bet it could survive the winter if you took it indoors and put it in a sunny window. Or maybe you don’t get enough sun in winter? It’d live through the winter out here. Just sayin’, in case you get a wistful hankering for it to survive the winter. I’d take it in. Because it’s just that awesome.
    Thanks for the laugh this morning. :)


    • I may bring it inside. Or I may just let it die and go find another random plant in the spring and see what happens. I doubt I’d have this sort of luck twice, but that would be okay too.


  2. Perfect. The planter AND the chimpanzee head planter. Iowa is zone 5 and you’re already beating the odds, but as Beckett said (Gladney, above. Not that other rather famous Beckett. Though Beckett Gladney may have some infamy I don’t know about)… you may be able to overwinter it indoors. Seems like it would, since it seems to love you. And being in a monkey head. Here’s what I learned:

    “This tough plant endures poor soil, baked conditions, and drought beautifully and still produces bold-color, daisylike flowers from summer to frost.
    A perennial in Zones 9-11 — the hottest parts of the country — gazania is grown as an annual elsewhere and blooms from mid-summer to frost. The flowers appear over toothed dark green or silver leaves (the foliage color differs between varieties). They’re great in beds and borders and (monkey head) containers, too.
    Plant established seedlings outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Do not fertilize, and keep soil on the dry side.
    Light: Sun
    Zones: 8-10
    Plant Type: Annual, Perennial
    Plant Height: To 1 foot tall
    Plant Width: To 1 foot wide
    Landscape Uses: Monkey Head Containers, Beds & Borders, Slopes, Groundcover
    Special Features: Flowers, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant ,Easy to Grow”


    • Heh, that I should have some infamy to leave a mark on society… I would add that I have some gazania relatives that have that same 1 foot high and wide advisory, and when planted here they took over part of the front yard and now are a formidable hedge of gazanias about 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide. So maybe they are from another planet or something. Or a Marx Brothers movie. Or something.


    • I confess, I mostly just skimmed over the informational part. I appreciate your willingness to do the research, but I’m oddly reluctant to learn much about the plant. Or flower. Whatever it is. I’d like to continue to be surprised by it. If that makes sense.


  3. You have an amazing gift for making the ordinary, extraordinary (a tissue holder – haha! You really need to go junking with my Mr.). Also, I laughed my ass off reading this. Thank you for making my day!


    • I was back at the coffee and salvage house today and thought of you. Y’all would love this place. There was a suitcase holding a complete cat skeleton (I think it was a cat, but who the hell knows?). And yes, I took a photo. Haven’t looked at it yet, though.


  4. For all of the non-gardeners out there – perennials die back in winter (i.e. look like they are dead) but will reshoot in the spring – for at least 3 years or more (otherwise they would be called annuals or biennials). Unless american gazanias are different to australian ones (noting that they are originally from South Africa). Enjoyed your post. Cheers Pip


    • Thanks so much for the information. Knowing that, I may bring the monkey’s head inside and stash it in the basement for the winter. I wouldn’t think US gazanias could be radically different from Australian ones — though I wouldn’t want to vouch for any gazania that came from Texas.


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