Giving myself a big bunch of bee balm

A bee’s-eye view of scarlet bee balm, Monarda didyma

I need cheering up, after nearly ten days of being seriously under the weather. What could be cheerier than the bold blast of colour that comes from our native North American bee balm (Monarda spp.) and its hybrid cousins – many of which are blooming right now, and some since ![< Oops. See the product of my under-the-weatherness? Meant to write “since midsummer”]

The short story on bee balm is: it’s easy to grow, there are species suited to different growing conditions, plus some people consider it a herb as much as an ornamental flower. (I’m using its ornamental qualities as a medicinal tonic for my mood right now. Please think healing thoughts!)

I’m afraid the short story is pretty much all you’ll get from me today – except for this big bunch of pictures. For another inspiring look at this flower, head over to Janet Davis’s The Paintbox Garden.

At Sarah’s country schoolhouse, pale purple Monarda fistulosa is making pretty patterns with phlox and echinacea
Taken last month in the display garden at Joy Creek Nursery near Portland OR – I’ll share more from that trip soon. You might be able to figure out the species and cultivar, and you will get growing information, from Joy Creek’s online catalog
A compact pink cultivar, also taken at Joy Creek. Monarda is generally hardy from Z4-9, so works in Toronto, too.
Bee balm isn’t just for bees. This patch at Oregon’s Westwind Farm Studio was a hummingbird magnet.
Plant it, and see who comes to call.


  1. Love Monarda and wish it bloomed as long in my garden as it did in those beautiful gardens in the NW. Love that that photo, wasn't that garden smashing!

  2. I love monarda! I love how crazy and unexpected the flowers are, like a troop of Rastafarians wandering through the garden. :o) Thanks to our humidity, mine always ends up with mildew, however, regardless of what I do. But that's ok. I still love it. :o)

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