Beautiful Bergamot by Lynn Kirkland
When people see the spectacular flowers of bergamot for the first time
they often say Wow.
I know I did when I first grew it and saw the first flowers open. It really is an impressive herb in bloom.
Monarda didyma is the botanical name of this herb which belongs in the mint family.
A clue to the herbs that fit into the family called mints is that they have a square stem.
A common name for bergamot is bee balm or Oswega Tea as it was used in North America by the Indians as tea and was introduced by the Native Americans to the European settlers as a tea substitute.
Now there can be confusion about the tea business as bergamot herb has a scent similar to Earl Grey tea. When you look at the label of Earl Grey tea you will see the word bergamot oil as this is how they get the flavour of Earl Grey into China tea.
The bergamot oil does not come from bergamot herb but from a citrus fruit which is a cross between a grapefruit and orange.
The rind produces bergamot essential oil and has many uses, one of which is to add the refreshing and uplifting taste to Earl Grey tea.
You can infuse bergamot herb leaves and flowers for a delicious and healthy herbal tea and the flowers make a gorgeous edible flower. Pull the bright red petals off and scatter over a salad.
It is refreshing as a bath infusion as well.
The herb comes in a range of colours in the pink, red and purple colour spectrum.
It is a perennial being dormant in the winter when it dies down to a basal clump.
As you can see in the photo it makes a fantastic border plant even if you dont intend to drink or eat it.
Visitors to your garden are sure to say. Wow, what is that flower?