Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Much Do I love Thee (Monarda punctata)

It's hard to the count the ways (and most days its hard to the count the wasps and pollinators that visit this fantastic plant in my garden, but in this case these are all photographs of just one happy Brooklyn pollinator). This Monarda still stands and blooms. It lasted in a vase for a week for me, only getting prettier in its decline. It has introduced me to some of the pollinating species that visit and live nearby my garden, and when it blooms it looks like its sporting some kind of leapard print. What more could you possibly ask of a plant in the garden that you aren't going to eat?

There's a lot of attention these days on bees, both introduced and native, which is important, but the wasps (and flies and pollinating beetles) are in need of a little PR campaign too. They're not about to make you any honey and you can't raise them like they were your pets, but they will pollinate your plants and often eat your problem pests in one stage of their life. Recently, I've photographed some of the wasps in my garden with only my phone camera (no real zoom to speak of), which means I've had to get up close and personal with them. And knock on my garden's wooden post, I haven't been stung yet. (Sometimes I even get the feeling that they know that I'm happy to see them and mean them no harm, and that they would like to pose for a picture).

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