Sunday, July 8, 2007

Monarda (bee balm, horsemint, oswego tea, or bergamot)

BZZZ, BZZZ, BZZZ is the sound you hear when you are near the Bee Balm (that is what I call it).. If you are lucky you may even catch a hummingbird. These flowers/herb are very attractive for bees and hummingbirds. These are native to North America and the one picture is a genuine wildflower, I found on a hike in Illinois. Many cultivars have been made for the home gardner like myself..

In my own garden my cultivated variety spreads like wildfire and needs divided every couple of years to maintain the health and vigor of the plant. I put it in the back of my beds to encourage the pollenation by the bees for the other plants. They are in the back because they have a tendancy to get about 2 1/2 feet tall. I also find that it pops up in places I haven't put it too.

What fascinated me was the use of the monarda. My ancestors who crossed the plains going West used the plant for medicinal purposes. The plant was found all along the trek, so it was in good supply. They used it to treat headaches and fevers. They would crush the leaves and steep in hot water to make a tea. I wonder what else they used it for?


Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Glad you enjoyed your visit to Iowa, you must have been here before the weather turned really hot but then you are in GA so are used to the heat. My daughter and son in law live in Columbus, GA, she complains of the heat often.

I have lots of Bee Balm blooming in my garden right now also, and don't you just love the smell of rosemary?

Your lemon pound cake looks yummy!

Dirty Fingernails said...

thanks about the pound cake! I was there week before last and NO humidity, so it was a welcome relief from GA. I love the smell of rosemary, but lemon thyme is my fav.

Connie said...

Hi, not sure how I ended up on your blog, but I enjoyed the browse....your photos are lovely.
I like Monarda, too! I am growing an annual type I started from seed this year which is very is pink with several flower whorls stacked on top of one other down the length of each stem. I hope to do a blog entry on it soon.

kate said...

I love bee balm ... there are several varieties in my garden. When I was a girl guide and out camping in northern Saskatchewan, we used to collect the leaves and make tea. It wasn't my favourite but then I was about 12 and probably didn't appreciate the taste!

Dirty Fingernails said...

I still don't like the taste.. I guess it tastes too much like medicine.. But I am not a tea drinker either..