Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Say it with me, Monarrrrrdaaaa Diddddyma
Looking out on this barren landscape of white shite I pondered what plant I miss the most. Without a doubt tis Beebalm aka Oswego Tea aka Horsemint aka Monarda Didyma. The last being the fave as it rolls off the tongue. The blossoms have always reminded of a 40’s feathery hat. One worn by that crazy aunt on Sundays decked out in white gloves and of course a string of pearls around her neck.
I’ve grown this plant for years or I should say it has grown itself. And it certainly does. Thriving in one area then come Spring you find it 2’ from the spot last seen in. One begins the task of gently easing the suckers out of the ground, then returning to its original place.
Monarrrrrda has to be the funkiest perennial. Square, yes, square, hollow stems reaching 2-4’ high and blossoms on top. If one is lucky another blossom will sprout from the original one both blooming in sync. It never fails to remind me of characters in How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Don’t ask. :)
Clearing the garden in Spring one should always rake the plant. The leaves are used in Earl Grey tea and even after Winters sleep the scent is very strong. These may be harvested mid and late Summer, hung to dry and will see you thru til next growth.
Most of mine is the deep red though I have a much older plant of soft, light purple. Not as strong as the red but lovely planted with a Purple Sandcherry bush. The red is favoured by hummers, bees and butterflies. Hummers of course can fit their beaks perfectly in the individual blossom and will spend an hour sipping from each.
A bed of Monarrrrda also provides the bestest spot for a Summers pondering watching hummingbird toes but that tale is for another day...