Bee Balm for Pollinators

Today was actually quite pleasant with sunshine and temperatures ultimately getting above freezing.  Looks like we may have some sleet/snow later this afternoon but I’m not upset that we missed all the snow that they received out East.  My brother and his family received 24″ of snow in Scotch Plains, NJ and my two nephews and three nieces are enjoying a snow day or two!  We had an excellent turnout today with Big John organizing everyone’s efforts.  Alan headed out in the gardens to collect lights.  Inside, we had Marv, Terry, Bob C. and Dick H. all processing lights for storage.  John was going through more donations and Ron P. continued repairing those lights in need of his expert attention.  Dr. Gredler was in for painting and Gene put sealant on one of the newly sanded benches.  Dave, Vern and Jim all worked on multiple carpentry projects.  Janice was in to prepare materials for our first (of three) Volunteer Social evenings tomorrow night (Tuesday, January 26th, 5 pm, show up!).  Urban was outside pruning and continues to make headway throughout the gardens.  Gary worked on a new sign and we saw many others.
Whenever I do presentations on pollinators or scent in the garden, I show images of perennial bee balm (Monarda sp.).  Bee balm, a member of the mint family, is known for vibrant summer blooms and fragrant foliage.  The flowers are extremely popular with bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.  There are some great varieties out there that explore the color range of red, pink, violet and white (and many shades in between!).  Many of the cultivated varieties (Monarda didyma) include taller varieties around 3-4′ while compact selections hover around 1-2′ in height.  Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is also extremely valuable for wildlife and is quite ornamental as well.  Bee balms do spread but really aren’t overly aggressive.  They aren’t hard to divide with a sharp spade in the spring either.  Moisture in the summer is important and air circulation around the plant becomes important as powdery mildew is a frequent problem (even on the “mildew resistant” varieties).  After the blooms are fading, we’ll typically cut the plants down to the ground in mid-summer to remove older foliage and encourage a fresh new plant to emerge and fill out.  There is no end to the combinations you can create in the full sun or part sun garden with bee balm and these photos represent a very small fraction of the varieties that have become available over the years.
 bee balm (Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Kline’) above and below

 

 bee balm (Monarda didyma ‘Pardon My Pink’) internet photo
 bee balm (Monarda didyma ‘Purple Rooster’) Introduced from our local Flower Factory Nursery!

 

 bee balm (Monarda didyma ‘Grand Marshall’) above and two below

 

 bee balm (Monarda didyma ‘Petite Delight’)
wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
 bee balm in composition with globe thistle (Echinops)
 bee balm in composition
bee balm in composition (Boerner Botanic Garden, Hales Corners, WI)
bee balm providing winter interest (Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, WI)

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