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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Annie's Thursday Garden Notes

Looking for another purple flowering fragrant herb for your garden? The Herb Society of America (HSA) has announced the Notable Native Herb of 2013 as Monarda fistulosa. Bergamot, also known as Bee Balm or Horse Mint is an aromatic herb. According to Katrinka Morgan, executive director of HSA, this herb met the criteria for the Notable Native award with its “usefulness, including its value for culinary, medicinal, ornamental, economic, industrial, or cosmetic purposes. It also performs well in most gardens throughout the US.”  This herb likes its soil moist but well-drained to prevent mildew. Give it full sun for optimal flower power but it can tolerate light shade. Plus it has quite the range (Zone 4-10).  

Here are some of the reasons why this herb is gaining in popularity and warrants its new title.

Medicinal uses: “Strong antiseptic properties with treating wounds, this herb has high levels of thymol, an antiseptic found in many brand name mouthwashes, making it a natural remedy for mouth and throat infections caused by gingivitis.”

Culinary Uses: A substitute for oregano making it a great minty option. (You know how much I love and use my spearmint.) Its leaves and stalks are edible, making it useable for loads of recipes plus as a flavorful tea.

Garden Uses:  “Bee balm attracts helpful pollinators while at the same time, the thymol works to keep underground pests away.” (A useful organic pest management tip for keeping out those unwanted garden guests.) But the definite 'must try' reason for this herb calls out to every tomato grower. Per the Growers Exchange, this herb is “especially great for planting near tomato plants. Bergamot actually improves the health and taste of their fruits.” This is a must try because we all know how vital it is to keep the health and taste of our tomatoes at its highest level.

So there you have it - the Thursday garden note, worthy of sharing on yet another drizzly morning. Let’s hope we see a break in this weather soon. But before launching off for the day, this Chinese Proverb seems fitting before we call it an herbal wrap. "Flowers leave some of their fragrance in the hand that bestows them." Can’t you smell this minty herb’s fragrance as you plant it in the garden? It’s time to get that jumpstart on this Notable Native Herb of 2013 and bask in its many beneficial uses.

Image of Monarda fistulosa and text references from the

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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)