Posts Tagged ‘monarda’


Here’s the view of the garden from an upstairs window that greets me in the morning.


I’m not an early riser, but at this time of year, I look forward to getting out for a stroll in the garden before the heat of the day sets in, while the air is still fresh. That’s the view from the front porch, above, with the garden beckoning.


By July, the garden is lush, and with the daylilies starting to bloom, there are new faces to see every morning.


I like the tracery of long morning shadows on the dewy grass.


The shade garden receives a bit of slanting morning sun that lights up the plumes of astilbe.


Some plants, like this Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’, don’t need the sun to glow. They burn with their own fire.


The mature plants in the hosta dell are beginning to put out flower scapes.


I planted three different varieties of monarda at one corner of the garden and they have taken the task of filling the space seriously. This year, the birds and bees have plenty of bee balm to choose from.


Here’s Gnome Chomsky, tucked into the larch glade.


St. Francis watches over a stand of dill and parsley set out for butterflies.


The Persicaria polymorpha is at its magnificent best.


Here are a few more views to round out the tour.





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Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

I have many plants in my garden that are very popular with bees and other pollinators. Pictured above is a favorite, the perennial Lemon Queen Sunflower (Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’), which blooms profusely in late summer.

I reserved one corner of the garden for a few plants that can be a bit unruly, but are beloved by pollinators. I call it Bee Corner. There are an assortment of monarda varieties. Monardas can be a bit rambling, and it is welcome to spread out at will here. There’s also some agastache ‘Black Adder’, which did very well this summer.


Bee Corner in September

New to the corner are wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) and hairy mountain mint (Pycnanthemum pilosum). They’re both North American natives that attract pollinators and have settled in well. Next year, they can take engage in a turf war with the monardas.


Wild Quinine

All comers can feast without fear of poisoning. I never use pesticides of any kind on my plants. The plants are all strictly on their own, thrive or die, and mostly, they thrive.

Lately, Colony Collapse Disorder has been in the news, and the rise in the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and fungicides is suspected as a contributing cause. The jury is still out on the exact causes of honey bee die-offs and because of their economic importance, honey bees are getting a lot of attention. One thing is for certain though. It’s not just honey bees that are affected by rampant pesticide use.


Clearwing Hummingbird Moth at Monarda

As Bridget Stutchbury points out in Silence of the Songbirds, the banning of DDT didn’t end the threat of pesticides to species such as birds:

We are as hooked on pesticides today as we were in the 1960s, when, in her seminal book Silent Spring, Rachel Carson warned us of the rain of poison that was bringing death to our waters and killing thousands of birds…. In many ways, birds are in greater danger today than in the 1950s because modern pesticides are more lethal. Older OC pesticides (organochlorines, fat soluble pesticides that can be stored in the fatty tissues of animals) were replaced in the 1970s and 1980s by “safer” pesticides like organophosphates and carbamates. These pesticides are safer because they break down within a few days and are not stored in the body, and so do not accumulate in the food chain. But many, like monocrotophos, are vastly more toxic to birds (and people) than were the OC pesticides. Modern insecticides are designed to kill their target swiftly and then break down before “non-target” animals come into contact with the poison. This is easier said than done. Birds can be exposed to these insecticides via direct contact with sprayed plants, by eating insects and fruits in areas that have been recently sprayed, or by eating pesticides that are applied to the ground in the form of granules….We have traded persistence for toxicity.


Hairy Mountain Mint

Many insecticides are lethal to birds because they are neurotoxins and interfere with the nerve impulses inside the bodies of animals. They disrupt the signal that must jump from neuron to neuron via chemical messengers, causing severe shaking, then paralysis and asphyxiation. Pesticides that are effective in killing insects are also very toxic to birds and other animals, including humans.


Agastache ‘Black Adder’

You can help reduce the use of agricultural pesticides by buying organic foods. You may feel that buying organic items such as bananas is not worthwhile because you peel the bananas anyway. But by buying organic bananas you support the reduction of the pesticide burden where the bananas were grown. You can also step more lightly on the land by buying other earth-friendly products such as shade-grown coffee. For more on threats to birds and ways you can make a difference, Silence of the Songbirds is a great read.


Bee Corner in August

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Last Sunday, we welcomed friends and neighbours to an Open Garden day. By mid July, the garden is reaching its peak and RailGuy and I were happy to invite others to share its beauty. In spite of a very hot day, with the temperature in the 90s (35C), we had a good number of visitors and appreciated that they braved the hot sun to take a stroll through the flower beds.


Photographs never capture the full experience of a garden, the birds singing, a breeze blowing, the quiet calm, but here is a selection of photos that I hope you will enjoy.


The Giant Fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha), which dominates the June garden, is still handsome, but other tall plants, such as the Giant Maiden Grass (Miscanthus gigantus) have overtaken it.


Various monarda, or beebalm species provide colourful highlights.


This path at the far southwest corner of the yard leads past hostas to a corner filled with agastache and monarda planted for the bees.


Astilbes star along the path beside the hay barn.


Some hosta species are just beginning to bloom. This bird bath was added this spring.


Here’s the dragon Emrys, guarding the path by the yellow Verbascum nigrum.


Elf Galen dozes in dappled shade.


The frog pond is lush with growth.


The shady tamarack tunnel remains cool on a hot day.


The red-and-gold bed features Tiger Eye sumacs (Rhus typhina ‘Bailtiger’ Tiger Eyes®).


We found this Cardinal whirligig while visiting Pennsylvania and brought it back to mark the new rose trail.


Finally, here are daylilies making a show. Next post, I’ll highlight some beautiful hemerocallis faces for daylily addicts.


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The Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) is a common and widespread butterfly. Great Spangled Fritillaries have just one brood each season, but are in flight through the summer. The males emerge first, with females following. The eggs the female lays hatch into tiny caterpillars that hibernate through the winter. When they emerge in the spring, they feed on native violets, their larval foodplant. Great Spangled Fritillaries are named for the metallic silvery-white spots that spangle the underside of the hind wing. This individual appears to have had a narrow escape from a predator.


It is nectaring at a monarda flower. Purple monarda (Monarda fistulosa) is an easy-to-grow native plant that is popular with pollinators. There is also a red variety (Monarda didyma). Both make attractive garden plants that hummingbirds, bees and butterflies all appreciate. In fact, one of the common names for monarda is bee balm. Monarda is also referred to as bergamot because it has a scent that is similar to that of the bergamot orange, which is used in Earl Grey tea. Monarda is a member of the mint family and was used by natives to brew a hot drink, which is the source of yet another name, Oswega tea plant.


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