I planted some Jacob Cline Monarda in my garden in 2005. Monarda is one of my favorites. It's not too showy, but pretty nonetheless, and has an slightly spicy scent. Maybe it's stupid, but back then, our first summer here, I was looking for plants that liked to spread out, or even invade a little bit, and the monarda was supposed to do that.
It didn't. For the last 4 summers, it has sent up, grudgingly, no more than 3 flowers. It has not gotten much bigger.
But last year, I noticed there was a smaller, second monarda growing next to my original. For whatever reason, I dug it up, and moved it a bit back further in the garden, along the path into our garage. I was excited earlier this season when I saw that it — that secondary plant — had gone nutso and presented a huge cluster of plants.
Its abundant procreation was great, but, there were some oddities. For starters, the flowers on this clump of plants were all white, and not nearly as large as the parent plant.
Jacob Cline Monarda is a hybrid, and some hybrids have a tendency to revert back to one parent or another. So, I'm assuming — though I could be wrong, since I didn't spend much time in my yard last year — that the little offspring I dug up and moved must have not inherited the big, red flower trait. Maybe the bees had something to do with it, or maybe my original plant sent out a different kid?
And, ultimately, this new clump of monarda couldn't have been moved to a less convenient spot. Monarda's common name — Bee Balm — gives a hint. It attracts bees. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a live-and-live, calm, rational sort of girl. Bees don't bother me. I mean, I feel better when they're not so close, and I certainly respect their abilities. But I don't scream or flail or in any other way live in fear of bees. Also, I'm sympathetic: honeybees have been dying off for the last few years, and that's bad for humans, since bees pollinate our crops. We need them. I figure, it's not gonna kill me to have some plants in my garden that honeybees — and even their healthier bee cousins — enjoy, and plants tended without any chemicals, at that, which, I hope, gives them some healthy food.
We have a little infant chair for Matthew we use in our yard, which we keep in the garage. I've been hauling him out on my hip, and working my way into the garage to grab the colorful bouncy chair several times a week, so we can enjoy the yard. Navigating through the buzzing bees did give me pause, on several occasions, since the monarda was beginning to intrude into the pathway; the long stems leaning a bit right into my pathway, forcing me to figure out how to gingerly move through the bees. This went on for awhile, and maybe I started to get cocky, passing through that field of buzzing energy. I couldn't imagine how some people could live in fear of bees, considering any one person maybe gets stung only once or twice in a lifetime, and how, for most people, it's just no big deal.* So, I continued to push through the bees to get Matthew's car, hoping my bravery/insanity/cavalier attitude teaches him respect, but not fear, of bees.
Alas, my number was called last week. A bee must have gotten caught up in my shirt, but thankfully escaped prior to stinging me on my abdomen or back, but got my left forearm, on the tender underside, before flying off. It fucking hurt! But mostly, I was offended: I had TRUSTED the bees. Man, I was stupid!
I had only been stung once in my life prior to this summer, probably when I was about 10, so I waited to see if I went into anaphylactic shock. I didn't. Also, there was no stinger left in the welt, so I'm assuming the bee has lived to see another day. Which is fine. I hate the idea of bees dying after they sting, since it must be an act of such terrible desperation for them. Mostly, though, I'm glad it didn't get Matthew. To help teach him about the respect aspect of our relationship with bees, I cut the flowers off of all the monarda directly next to the path to the garage, and, to be safe, I'm gonna move the whole cluster out to the front of the house, perhaps near the corner where my new, bold neighbor likes to sell drugs.
* Bee stings are big a big deal for some people. I know.