Monardas for bees, beauty – and tea

March 23rd, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Monarda Bee Series

We grow monardas for two reasons: for their colourful bee-friendly flowers and for their aromatic foliage that makes such refreshing tea, it’s distinctive flavour in Earl Grey Tea. But traditional varieties have a couple of problems. So many of them suffer from mildew, which first coats the foliage in silver mould and then causes it to drop off. And they can also grow uncomfortably tall, revealing bare stems denuded of leaves.

Shorter varieties have been introduced but they’re so squat and dumpy that they’ve lost all elegance. So when Tom Stimpson, Plant Product Manager at Mr Fothergills, saw the Bee Series last summer he knew they were different.

“I saw the plants from the Bee Series last summer, in Holland, and thought they looked impressive,” he told me. “I’m not normally a fan of the new and dwarf perennials, they often look squashed and unnatural. But this series, although shorter than standard monarda types, does still have some movement and individual stems can easily be seen, so the flowers look natural. It also looks terrific in patio containers, is adored by pollinators and the plants I saw were totally mildew free.”

Sound impressive, don’t they? Plants reach about 45cm, increase well and their appeal to bees and other pollinators is amazing. Why not give them a try? And bergamot tea with its fresh orange blossom fragrance, made from a few fresh leaves is refreshing.

‘Bee Free’ is vivid purple, ‘Bee Happy’ is deep red and ‘Bee Lieve’ is pale pink. (Sorry about the silly names).

These impressive new monardas are selling fast so order soon.

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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