Friday, 24 August 2012
Show - Stoppers
Have you noticed how that each flower show seems to have its own signature plant? This year at the Southport Flower Show, monardas or bergamot were very much the flavour of the day. They were leaping out everywhere you looked and were most enticing in a variety of hues of pinks, red, violet, lavender, purple and white. Sadly some of the specimens for sale were almost triffid like in their proportions - far too long and leggy but we eventually managed to track down some short and sturdy plants. I came home with a couple of plants of monarda 'Fireball' which you can see above. 'Fireball' is apparently a compact plant which is not as susceptible to mildew as some of the other monardas. My plants are now ensconced in the holding bay. I already have a couple of monardas - 'Gardenview Scarlet' which grows at the allotment and 'Prairie Night' and have clocked another couple for the wish list.
As well as providing invaluable late summer colour, being bee and butterfly magnets, monardas have most deliciously scented foliage. In her book 'Cottage Garden Flowers' Margery Fish wrote ; "The foliage of bergamot has a most beguiling perfume. It does not need to be picked up or touched to fill the air around with its haunting fragrance. Even in the depths of winter it makes its presence known if one is working in a border where it grows, when very often there is scarcely a leaf showing. I often feel that one ought to make more use of this gift from Heaven. True one can put a leaf in the teapot and change the flavour of ordinary tea into something more exotic, a few sprigs among the sheets with give lasting fragrance, and it gives the necessary bite to pot - pourri that nothing else can supply." You can add chopped leaves sparingly to salads and use them to flavour jams and jellies. Finally if all that isn't enough reason to find room for a monarda in your garden, the birds enjoy the rounded seedheads come the autumn.