Sunday, January 6, 2019

Bee Balm Bistro 2: Setting the Table

Bee Balm, Monarda fistulosa, is a native perennial in the mint family.  Its gorgeous pink-lavender flowers are a staple for insects that feed on nectar and pollen.  Normally, the Creek Field is full of Bee Balm blooms by late June.

But the drought of 2018 meant that by early July most of the Bee Balm was barely up.  What was up was short and hunched over, like little old men.
Here are the unpromising starts of Bee Balm
in the drought year of  2018.  The leaves are
curled up and bent over,
minimizing exposure and
curtailing evaporation.
Creek Field, June 2018
Bee Balm plants in 2018 reached only about half the height of last year's plants.

The dried stalks of last-year's Bee Balm tower
over the new green growth during the drought summer.
Creek Field, July 10, 2018

  However, Bee Balm was not one of the species that coped with lack of moisture by not blooming at all.   

To be sure some of the blooms were a little ratty:
Lack of moisture meant
lack of vigor in responding to
feeding pressure.  Some
blossoms looked peaked!
Creek Field, July 17, 2018
Lack of moisture meant lack of vigor and fewer resources to respond to feeding pressure.  

Well, if you are a plant and you open up a blossom when many other species aren't blooming at all, you are going to be heavily visited by creatures hungry for pollen, nectar, and petals.  

Bee Balm was one of the few ports in the drought storm of 2018!  

Some of the creatures who sailed in are shown in the next post, Bee Balm Bistro 3.

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