June 29, 2015
This brown and orange butterfly, which I believe is a ‘red admiral butterfly’, is on the Liatris. If you want bumblebees and butterflies in your garden, this is one of the plants you should have! They flock to these spiky lavender plants. Liatris is a native North American flower. I’ve planted a row of them separating the driveway and the backyard. They grow just about three foot tall on strong stems. Each year, they are covered with bees and butterflies. Notice that they bloom from the top of the spikes first and then open up downward. Most spiky plants bloom from the bottom upward.
Isn’t this ‘Tiger Swallowtail butterfly’ gorgeous? When I pulled this picture up on the laptop, I immediately noticed the shadow of the Liatris bloom on the left wing. Isn’t that cool? The butterflies flit from one flower spike to another, giving me ample time to take some amazing pictures.
Monarda, Bergamot, or ‘bee balm’ is the other perennial plant in the garden that is a magnet for the bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. (I am still working on capturing a picture of the hummingbird!) This is another native North American plant. It is a genus of flowering plants in the mint family. Apparently, it can be an overpowering plant in the far south, but not farther north and not here in Northern Kentucky. The harsh winter last year took a toll on my monarda, but it seems to be on the rebound.
The leaves of the bee balm can be crushed and used to make a minty tea. The leaves can be dried or fresh and crushed to make the tea. Perhaps you have heard of it referred to as Bergamot tea. The bergamot oil is used in Earl Grey tea. You might be able to recognize the flavor.
The native Americans used the bee balm for medicinal purposes, too. Ointments made from the oil can be used to treat skin eruptions, abrasions, and minor infections. The pulverized leaves can be used to treat bee stings, which is where it gets the name ‘bee balm’.
The tea can also be used for treating fevers and chills. Therapeutic baths use the bee balm, too. Make your own therapeutic bath by tying some leaves in a cloth and tossing it into your hot bath at home. Breathing the steam from the bee balm leaves is supposed to help with sore throats. Is this plant amazing or what?
The blossoms of the bee balm can be eaten! This is yet another beautiful blossom to add to your fresh summer salads. (I can’t wait til the nasturtiums are blooming again!)
This male cardinal sits in the crabapple tree and warily watches to see if it is safe for his mate to drink from the birdbath. The other night, Dave and I sat on the deck watching his protective ritual. She flew down to the birdbath and perched on the edge. Next thing we knew, he was there right beside her. Their beaks met. I am relatively sure he was feeding her something, but at the moment, it was almost as if he was giving her a kiss.
Is it any wonder I love the wild visitors in the garden?