Scary stories from a lovely place
This delightfully unassuming flower is Monarda Citriodora, or Bergamot. Or the flavour that makes Earl Grey tea far tastier than regular.
A few years ago a fellow tea enthusiast suggested I make my own earl grey; that I get some tea and some bergamot and mix my own. Living in Johannesburg, city of clever ideas, it wasn’t wholly a stupid suggestion. After some research I found a kindly Muslim man in a spice shop in Oriental Plaza who thought he could perhaps get some bergamot for me. But it never went any further.
This time I’m growing bergamot, not because I still aspire to home made tea, but because I was intrigued by it as a plant. A bee and butterfly magnet, the flower smells lovely and reminds me a little of Art Deco architecture; the stacked layers and the curve of the petals.
It was a tricky one to grow though. I sowed Monarda Citriodora and Monarda Didyma, a pink coloured variety. Of 10 or so seeds each, only one of each germinated, and the Didyma didn’t survive the transplant. I’m not sure how well it will self-propagate, if it will spread seeds or replace itself when this one dies.
But, in the meantime, it’s a lovely addition to my little piece of green earth, and a lovely friend for the insects.