Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wildflower Wednesday~Monarda didyma

Early last evening, my husband called me to the window to see a perfect pairing of a cardinal and bee balm. 

Jacob Kline a hybridized variety  of Monarda didyma

There was Mr Cardinal, his plumage a glorious red, sitting on the shepard's crook with Jacob Kline,  equally resplendent in red,  just below.   Mr Cardinal was off to other adventures before I could snap a photo~~but,  for a few moments, it was  lovely watching those two red gentlemen light up the shade. 

Monarda didyma
Monarda didyma  with a Fly-bee last summer

is a perennial wildflower that is the parent of many  popular hybrids.  Jacob Kline is one of those hybrids and it resides  along with Marshall's Delight, Pink Supreme  and  Grand Marshall  in the gardens at C&L.  JK blooms about two to three weeks before Marshall's delight.  The parade of monardas is  just beginning.  

The  flowers of Jacob Kline are the  purest color red I've seen.   Big, beautiful red flowers that can be seen across the garden and hold their own in a competition with a male cardinal! 
Jacob Kline is a pure red color

Isn't it luscious!  I think that it's safe to say that JK   might even  be the best of the red bee balms.  Which makes it a beautiful flower for the garden...and very attractive to hummingbirds! 

Monarda, bee balm and oswego tea are all names for this  aromatic herb indigenous to Eastern North America.  A perennial with dark green leaves and the upright square stems of the mint family,  usually it  grows to about 3 foot tall by 2 feet wide.   Jacob Kline is a taller variety, reaching 4 to 5 foot tall with very large flowers.    Hybridizing hasn't rid this mint family member of its traveling ways; so, I expect to be dividing this plant frequently  to  improve its looks, health and  get divisions.  

It's  planted  near a  path in  the Garden of Benign Neglect  so that visitors and gardener can   brush against the foliage and release that wonderful bee balm fragrance as they walk by.   I can't resist reaching over and touching it as I pass by...

It's doing beautifully for a first year plant and has already doubled in size!  It is a mint after all! Like mints, it prefers moist soil;  planting it in a  semi-shady  spot will help when the  summer really  heats up here  and rains disappear.  Which means next week!     I am prepared to water it by hand during the dry summer months....that's how much I like this plant!  Keeping it moist will help control  powdery mildew and encourage  blooming  until late summer.    Contrary to popular belief, powdery mildew is not a problem when the soil is consistently moist...but,  is a problem when it gets too dry! 

 The list of visitors to monarda is long: Short and Long tongued bees, butterflies, skippers, moths, wasps, beetles and of course, the hummingbird.  

I saw a hummingbird on the penstemon last month, so I know they are in the garden!  It may already be visiting Jacob Kline....It's time to set the tripod up and try to get that Holy Grail of all hummer photos...a hummingbird hovering over a flower.   

Gail

The Hummingbird  by Harry Kemp
  
The sunlight speaks. And it's voice is a bird: 
It glitters half-guessed half seen half-heard 
Above the flower bed. Over the lawn ... 
A flashing dip and it is gone. 
And all it lends to the eye is this -- 
A sunbeam giving the air a kiss.

53 comments:

  1. Monarda blooms look like Court Jester's caps to me. They make me smile! Jacob Kline is a great red!

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  2. Janet, That is a great description....a good red for a jester! gail

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  3. I love the poem Gail. The bee balm is a hummer magnet as well as bees and flies. I have a red bee balm in my garden that was a pass along plant so I don't know the variety but it does put on a lovely show. I can see why you would be willing to keep it watered.

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  4. Hi Gail, I am on a quest for hummers too! I planted pineapple sage this spring, now I need some bee balm! I always loved the purple ones like citriodora, but the hummers make it easy to decide! Anything red!

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  5. Just lovely. Mine is in full bloom and I love it. I have two smaller ones from the parent plant ready to be planted in the soil. What a great plant. I want to get some of the pink as well.

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  6. I love monarda--mine aren't quite blooming yet but it's an awesome plant. Mine moves around a bit, but I trust its sense of placement! :)

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  7. Monica, That is wise counsel...they do travel. I've heard that they thin out in the center and to go ahead divide them, then plop some compost on top of the missing spot and they will quickly fill in! I love those mints!

    gail

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  8. Darla, The pink is delicious! I found mine at Krogers last summer and swooped in and bought 3 each of the newest varieties. They brought in the butterflies and bees!

    Gail

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  9. Lisa, I am glad you like the poem..I love the last line. I thought about saving it for muse day, but it was too perfect to wait! I am afraid I am one who tastes her dessert first! Gail

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  10. Lzyjo, Hi! I hope you get your photo. Have you seen the ones where gardeners are standing in the middle of hummers and they appear to be landing on their hands...I can't even get a good shot of them! gail

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  11. Oh I just love Monarda, and your's is fantastic!

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  12. Gail, what a wonderful poem, I loved it.

    I've heard lots of good things about Jacob, your photos sure are beautiful. I'm glad you brought up the fact that it isn't moisture or humidity that causes mildew problems in most plants but rather stress.
    Marnie

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  13. My JK has taken over one bed and must be rogued out soon! Love that color though and the hummingbirds do love it. Cardinals and bee balm sound like a perfect combination. Did I see you Twittering? LOL :)

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  14. Monarda is great! I just planted one more yesterday and have a couple in the self sowing garden, I know its a perennial but I had some that needed a home and thought that would be the perfect place. They also propagate very easily from stem tip cuttings. 7-14 days tops for rooting!

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  15. Gail,

    I just planted Jacob in September and have been so thrilled with the red blooms! This is the BEST red that I've seen. I've not been able to get a photo that really shows the red as well as yours. Mine is planted down the slope from a miscanthus 'Cosmopolitan'. I wish they were planted closer together as the white/green foliage of the grass really sets off the red in Jacob. I also have orange flowers at Jacob's feet - geum, blanket flower, salvia, echinacea 'Sundown'.

    My 'Raspberry Wine' has just started blooming and is paired with echinacea 'Prairie Splendor'. It will be followed by 'Blue Stockings' that is paired with echinacea 'Ruby Star'.

    Love your photos and these plants.
    Cameron

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  16. Oh, I forgot that I've got the tiny, short clear pink monarda, 'Petite Wonder'. I hope I'll like it better this year. It's so short, I think it's just difficult to see way down there!

    Cameron

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  17. I love Monarda! I started a variety from seed this year called 'Panorama'. It's supposed to be a mix of scarlet, bright red, pink, and salmon. The plants are growing wonderfully; I can't wait to see the bloom colors!

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  18. the garden of Benign Neglect? Love it! My monarda are finally spreadin this year, which is good (I say that now), and good to know they prefer it moist to stay healthy.

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  19. Happy Wildflower Wednesday! The Monarda looks stunning!

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  20. Monarda is one thing I absolutely do not mind wandering! I think it's just spectacular no matter which one we're talking about. Paired with a cardinal, I can't imagine anything any more beautiful. Maybe you'll have the opportunity to catch that shot again?!! I'll be getting my camera ready for hummingbird shots next month. (that's when they show up in my garden). Best of luck capturing a great image!

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  21. I do like the monardas... unfortunaly.. they dont like to live in my garden .... :o((((!
    Linda

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  22. What stunning color and interesting form...simply gorgeous! Kim

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  23. Even your Garden of Benign Neglect looks good to me. Bet it would be a fun place to explore.

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  24. What a lovely color. I hope mine looks half as good as yours. I have it in a pot till I make up my mind where I want to put it.

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  25. Mine is just now coming into bloom. So late compared to last year. It is near red hollyhocks, white hollyhocks and purple astilbe. Note to myself, fix that pairing. I bet that cardinal was an awesome pairing.

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  26. Count me as one who loves mondarda too. I just planted some this year and it's doing very well. Your pictures are so pretty and I can hear the happiness in your voice as you watch every bloom add color to your life.

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  27. Gail, I love bee balm...it was in our garden in Missouri. And thanks for the hint about powdery mildew. We have some on a couple of our new bushes; I think I'll try watering them more often. Its gotten horribly hot here - highs in the upper 90's already! oh Austin...

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  28. I LOVE Jacob Kline Monarda, as do the hummingbirds.

    I don't have any in my home garden, yet (we don't have many damp patches), but we have had several fabulous patches in the Children's Garden in the botanical garden (where I work) in previous years. (The drought took care of one; the other was weeded by an overly ambitious student worker, alas.)

    But your post reminds me that I need to find some more and get it in the ground, now that (maybe) our SE drought has eased for awhile.

    Lisa

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  29. Hi Gail,
    I am excited I came across this post, and got to see your monarda blooms. Last week, I was at our neighborhood hardware store, and they had both Jacob Klein, and another red one, I think called scarlet. I had my iphone with me, and even though I struggle using the silly thing, was able to Google both of these monardas, and decided on Jacob, as I have had trouble with mildew in the past.

    Last fall I planted a small pink blooming one, and it has buds on it, and no mildew so far. We've had lots of rain lately, so it should continue to do well. I hope they open soon!

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  30. Gail I have Jacob Kline too and it's a magical shade of red, like Cardinal Flower.

    If your R. carolina doesn't make it I can always send another piece this fall. I have plenty.

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  31. Sweetbay...You are a sweetie pie! I have searched the nurseries...what is wrong with these people, they have rows of Knock Outs, but no natives! gail

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  32. Sue...I think you made a good choice..isn't it a gorgeous red...and the hummers will be visiting it soon...gail

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  33. Beautiful, Gail! I love crimson flowers, and it's even better that they tend to attract hummers.

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  34. Great post, Gail. A lovely way to close the day.

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  35. Gail ... Here I am at the last of the pack again .. been BUSY girl ! BIG sigh .. love the side bar picture for TES ! We should call them "Tess" yes ?? LOL
    Love your Bee Balm girl !!! I have Petite Delight but I suffer from your type envy .. I am loopy for the scent they have .. it is wonderful !!
    Gorgeous pictures of a perfect red !

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  36. What a treat to see the cardinal and monarda displaying their red coats together. And kudos to Mr. I for noticing! We just bought two more monardas, Marshall's and Raspberry Wine to join Blue Stockings and Jacob. I see the name Monarda bradburiana in the notebook from Chicago. We must look for it, I believe. :-)
    Frances

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  37. Love the bee balm! The wild one here is pale lavender. Pretty until you put it up next to one of those bolder-colored ones. :)

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  38. Gail, I am imagining the red cardinal sitting next to Jacob Kline--what a beautiful scene that must have been! I've resisted planting bee balm because of its wandering ways, but last year I planted a small variety, and it looks like it will bloom this year. In my new wild/butterfly garden, though, I didn't mind some spreading, so I planted some bee balm seeds. I hope they take.

    I haven't seen any hummingbirds here yet, except for an early one enjoying all the potted plants sitting near the garage at that time. Of course, it flew away the minute I retrieved the camera:) Love the poem!

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  39. That's good to know info about the Monarda Gail. I have mine in full sun but it seems to be doing well, maybe all that rain we've had this season has helped. Mine are 'Panorama Mixed' so the only one blooming right now is a nice shade of fushia pink. :)

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  40. Hi Gail....I love the poem, beautiful...

    Bee balm is wonderful I grow it here. I have it in full sun, obviously a mistake after reading your post. Although saying that the soil is damp where it stands....it seems to do ok.

    It is lovely to know about your native wildflowers.......

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  41. You certainly have a way with words, gail - the Garden of Benign Neglect...sounds like poetry to me!
    Katarina

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  42. A lovely post, Gail, and always a joy to visit your delightful garden. My Monarda has become a 'happy wanderer' in my garden after years of trying to tame its wandering ways ... so decided to see what happen this year. I love it so, I'm sure I'll be delighted!

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  43. Your monarda are beautiful. I use to have some(-: Something I need to add to my list for next year(-:

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  44. Gail, thanks for all the info and great pictures of the monarda. I just planted some this spring and am anxious for it to do well and attract butterflies and bees. Of course our native butterflies won't be quite as exciting as the ones we saw in Chicago, but I will enjoy then amyway.

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  45. Just love your Monarda blooms.They are so beautiful.

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  46. Hi Gail! Thanks for the info on Heuchera. I've looked up 'Autumn Bride' and it looks as though it's an outstanding plant! It gets Huge compared to most of the varieties I have. I'll need to put that on "the list." ;-) Jacob Cline (that's how my tag spelled it) looks wonderful. I planted it last year and anticipate its blooming before too terribly long. My plants take longer to bloom because their residence involves a good amount of shade. But the coneflower, rudbekia, turtle-head, etc. all do pretty well. Your flowers make me grin in anticipation!! ;-)

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  47. Hi Gail,
    I've been struggling with powdery mildew for a few years--what do you to avoid/counteract it? I'd always thought it was related to moisture. How is dryness a factor? Please help!

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  48. Gail — what a sight that must have been; cardinal and beebalm together. I have not grown it for quite a few years as I don't have enough sun for it but I miss that wonderful fragrance. I loved the pale pink Monarda that was growing at Lurie.

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  49. I love the hummingbird poem at the end. I'd never heard that one. I have that first Monarda. Bought it last fall or this past winter sometime, and it's five feet tall. Many have already fallen over, they're so tall. But the color is luscious, isn't it?
    Brenda

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  50. this is a truly unique looking flower and the red colour is so vivid. have fun with your blooming mondardas.

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  51. My friends, Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment...I appreciate everyone of them...Hope you have had a fantastic week and that this next one is even better~~gail

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  52. Hi Gail~
    What a sight it must have been to see the Cardinal and monarda shining together in your garden. Sounds like it was quite a moment. Hope you catch a pic of the hummingbird soon.

    Karrita

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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