When I stopped by Canadian Tire recently, I checked out their garden section. Along with the usual fall selection of mums in bright autumnal colours, they had some nice agastache plants. I passed up the mums, but brought home a few pots of the agastache.
It’s a variety called Blue Fortune Giant Hyssop, fairly commonly available at garden centres. I’ve grown it before in past gardens and found it to be a rather short-lived perennial, but it has several charms. It’s purple flowers are pretty to look at, and it is a bee magnet. Bumblebees love it. Absolutely adore it. While bees visit many flowers in the garden and surrounding fields, nothing attracts bumblebees like agastache. All day, every day, you can wander out into the garden and see the agastache spires dotted with bumblebees.
The visitors seem to be mostly of two species. I believe the smaller bumblebee on the left to be a Common Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens), while the larger bee on the right is an Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica). The fuzzy hairs that give bumble bees a kinder, gentler look than other bees, provide them with insulation that allows them to fly at cooler temperatures than most pollinators.
Agastache is a member of the Lamiaceae family, which also includes mints and lavender. Blue Fortune is a hybrid cross of A. rugosa and A. foeniculum. The former is native to Asia, where hyssop has long been used as a herbal remedy, reputed to be helpful with fevers, upset stomachs and cold symptoms. A. foeniculum is native to North America from northern Canada south to Colorado and Wisconsin. For more about agastache for the garden, check out this Fine Gardening site.