I have childhood memories of ugly red bee balm plants surrounding a maple tree in our front yard. In addition to being ugly, what really bothered me about this flower was the smell. The scent tickled my nose in an unpleasant manner and gave me an instant headache.
And then I grew up. Well, I suppose that’s questionable, but what did happen is I came to appreciate the showy flower and aromatic scent. (Funny thing is, an infusion of crushed, boiled bee balm flowers apparently treats headaches–I should have used it to treat the very symptom it caused. It has many other medicinal uses as well.)
This summer, like others, I waited in anticipation.
Even before it bloomed, its leafy bracts showcased a fluid beauty.
And those leaves set at right angles to the square stem offered a crossroads where color and texture met.
Finally . . .
with the aid of raindrops
and sunshine, the bracts pulled away and revealed star-capped tubes nestled within.
Ever so slowly, flowers began to emerge.
With a hat reminiscent of a jester, they crowned the plant.
Stamens projected from the tubular upper lip, while below, three slender lips provided a landing pad for visiting insects seeking nectar-filled sweetness.
Like me, the pollinators’ eyes shone brightly
as they sought
I’ve spent many moments starring–in awe and wonder–at the structure, simple yet complex, and all of its idiosyncrasies.
And I know I’m not the only female who stops by to soak in the glory of this old-fashioned perennial.
What’s so special about bee balm? Everything.
P.S. This one is for you, Jinny Mae, because you, too, are special.
8 thoughts on “What’s So Special About Bee Balm?”
It’s my faviorite! Ours is past its prime but the bees are still gorging!! They are fabulous in arrangements and bouquets!!! The hummingbird shots are spectacular! You’ve become quite the photographer!!!Love from sweltering Raleigh!!!
Emily–I love that you check in. Your bouquets and arrangements are fabulous period. Thanks for sending the heat and humidity our way. Only good thing is the wind. Love you.
Gorgeous photos! I had the same initial reaction with bee balm when it started coming up all over the yard; but then, like you, I looked up close at the way the flowers developed. And then came the insects and birds. That plant has it all! Wonderful hummingbird captures!
Thanks Jin. That plant sure does have it all. It shouts for attention and deserves such.
Love the ‘court jester’ analogy!
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It’s either that or a crazy hair day, don’t you think, Ann?
Wonderful still shots of hummingbird!!
Thanks Sharon. Hope you are having fun exploring the natural world this summer.
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