Tag Archives: bee balm

What’s that funny-looking bee?

I plant flowers and shrubs that are appealing to birds, bees and butterflies. A few years ago, I planted Bee Balm for the hummingbirds. They love it! Yesterday I noticed two “odd” insects feeding at the Bee Balm and the nearby Phlox.

hummingbird moth

They are called Hummingbird Moths. It was hard to get a good pic of them as just like hummingbirds, they are in constant movement. According to link to the Forest Service, they also like Phlox. I happen to have Phlox planted next to the Bee Balm so they may think they stumbled on a smorgasbord. Per the Forest Service pics, I think the two I saw are the Snowberry Clearwing version.

bee balm & phlox

A word of caution if planning to install Bee Balm – that’s not mentioned in plant web sites. The above plant started as a small single 3″ plant pot. In the 3 years since, I’ve had to divide, give away, plant in other places, as it spreads quite a bit after it’s cut down when the flowers subside. I didn’t know it spread like that! So my suggestions are:

  • Put it in a spot where it can be visible during its blooming time which is 3-4 weeks on either side of July 4. It’s VERY spectacular.
  • Put it behind other shorter plants that will hide the empty space once you have to cut it down after blooming. It’s rather ugly after blooming.
  • Put it in a space where the underground roots can allow it to enlarge but won’t encroach on other plants. It’s not too invasive but can double/triple in size underground after blooming. Dividing is easy and can control the size as the roots aren’t deep.

You can have your neighbors asking “what IS that bright red flower”!

Blood and Sweat … lots of both!

I’ve been working on my landscape like a crazy lady this Spring. I have fairly large landscape beds all around the house. So far I’ve put down 100 bags of mulch with one more big bed yet to go. I also just finished putting in a new 5′ x 24′ bed which required just under 1000 lbs of top soil to raise the level so it would slope away from the home.

Backyard - long view

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This photo is of my back yard. The spruce and viburnums have been in about 10-12 years as has the pear tree on the right. It’s now taller than the 2nd story windows. The variegated winter creeper (front) is providing shade and hiding the AC unit.

privacy screening

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maintenance-free landscaping

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The east side landscaping was selected to be fairly maintenance-free since it’s furthest from the faucet. My son-in-law, who is a supervisor at a landscape firm, suggested the Olentangy limestone boulders to block erosion of the slope. They were costly but really make a dramatic statement. He scored points with his mom-in-law with that idea! The white shrub is a dappled/variegated willow. If unpruned, it gets quite large – above that window behind it. Each fall, I severely cut it down. It is now in the process of growing new limbs.

colorful perennials

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A few years ago, I had the builder-provided landscaping removed from the front and all new plants installed. They’ve grown quite a bit since then, plus I’ve added some perennials on my own. The red/green shrub is pieris japonica. The light green plant to the right is bee balm. It will get about 3ft tall with brilliant scarlet flowers. It only looks good for the 3-4 weeks that it blooms then it needs to be cut down. It spreads like crazy, so I’ve divided it and planted some elsewhere for the hummingbirds. Toward the top of the photo are three white phlox that also get tall and contrast nicely with the bee balm.

large barberries

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The west side has large plants to deflect the effects of weather on this side. In between the large barberries are green/white striped ornamental grasses that grow to about 6 ft with draping fronds.

new landscape bed

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Ninebark Coppertina

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My last project was to build a bed along the back of my home (above) (the brown “thing” by the tree is Murph). I am unfamiliar with two of the plant types so am anxious to see what they do. On each end of the bed are Coppertina Ninebark which can grow 8-10 ft and 6 ft wide. They are to get a brilliant bronze-red in the summer.

Ligularia

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The other plant is Ligularia. It will have very dark black-purple leaves then in summer grows tall daisy-like yellow-orange flowers. It will be about 30″ tall and hopefully contrast well with the Ninebark and the white Butterfly Bush in the middle.

 

 

If all goes as planned, the Ninebark and Butterfly Bush should grow up to the bottom of the windows. The only project left to do is to add a deck … so I can relax and enjoy the view!

backyard screening

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BTW, last summer I attended a neighborhood picnic. I was asked where I lived. When I told the person, she said, “Oh, you’re the lady with the landscaping!” I guess there’s worse things to have neighbors call you. 🙂

A bright welcome for hummingbirds

Do you like to feed hummingbirds? In addition to providing the sugar-water in feeders, there are several plants that they like as well. The plants have tubular flowers and usually are red in color.

Last summer I planted Bee Balm. It didn’t grow much during the summer and didn’t flower at all. However, this spring it came up over a much larger area and grew and grew and grew! It finally flowered this week and I love it. The tiny birds seem to like it as well.
bee balm
I only purchased one plant from the nursery. That small plant became the 2-foot round display in the above photo. It’s about 3-foot tall. I may have to divide it next spring if it spreads too much. Not visible yet in the photo below, are three white phlox plants that will soon provide a nice contrast. In the days since I took this photo, even more flowers have opened up and it’s proving to be a very showy plant. So far, I really recommend it.

perennial plants

The plant in the foreground is a Pieris Japonica which is an interesting evergreen plant that constantly changes color. New leaves start out red then change to green. In the fall, leaves turn bronze. Lily-of-the-valley style flowers bloom in the spring.