Let’s all agree right now to stop pretending to hate cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) and (Cosmos sulphureus). Let’s agree to stop telling ourselves we are too good for it. Or that it’s too easy. Let’s agree to admit right here, right now that we think it’s a pretty flower. Let’s stop telling ourselves it doesn’t have delicate, ferny foliage and soft petals. Let’s put the breaks on our own inner elitist whispering in our ear that a plant that can come up from a sidewalk crack and still put on a show is too embarrassing to grow.
Can we all just agree right now that we are in fact delighted to find one of these tough, resilient flowers dancing on a thin and graceful stem in a light late summer breeze with a puffy bee set on top busily enjoying its pollen?
I know. I don’t post anything for ages and then I give you this. I received a simple little pocket-sized point-and-shoot digital camera for my birthday and have been excitedly testing out the video feature. The following are two short videos from day one with the camera.
I call this first one, “Tomatillo in the Wind.” A longer, contemplative shot might have imparted a more existential flavour but I’ve suffered through enough art school endurance tests to last a lifetime.
This next video was actually the very first one I shot with the camera only minutes after busting open the box. Can you feel the excitement?
…Because I had to post something a little more optimistic. Both of these Polaroids were taken this morning on my rooftop. The ‘Miniature White‘ cucumber variety is a lot less yellow then as seen in this photo as the Polaroid film has a yellow cast. It is the largest of a bunch of cucumbers that are soon to be harvested from the rooftop garden. The plant is growing in a garbage bin and the zinnias are growing in an old flour canister.
Speaking of mint, check out the unique and gorgeous flowers on the ‘Lemon Mint’ plant. I purchased this particular variety as an impulse buy in early spring when herbs were 3 or 4 for $10 and I couldn’t steer my bike in the general area around known garden shops without popping in for “just a peek” and then finding myself tentatively and rather unsafely riding home with a basket full of something-or-other.
All of that just to say that I really had no idea what I was getting myself into when I bought this plant except that I was working on an expanding collection of mints and I’m constantly on the lookout for a lemony herb that can rival the fresh lemon zip of Lemon Verbena. I can tell you right now that despite the name ‘Lemon Mint’ doesn’t even make it into the parking lot of the stadium that holds the ring where possible contenders would go head-to-head with the mighty Lemon Verbena. It might make it onto the highway that leads to the parking lot of the stadium or maybe the fallow field next to the parking lot of the stadium but that’s only because I’m feeling generous.
But I digress.
So it turns out that the plant commonly referred to as ‘Lemon Mint’ is in fact a type of beebalm, Monarda citriodora to be exact. I noticed that it looked kinda odd (square, tought stems) and rather un-mentha-mint-like when I purchased it but REALLY started to notice a problem when the first flowers bloomed. This is another fine example of why common names are misleading. Monarda citriodora is in fact a member of the mint family but is not what you picture in your mind when you think mint. It is also commonly called: Lemon bee balm, horsemint, lemon bergamot, plains horsemint. This non-mint mint cousin prefers a sunny location but doesn’t mind a little bit of shade which is why it hasn’t keeled over from its current position in the shadiest spot of my community plot tucked in alongside the ‘Ginger’ and ‘Mojito’ mints.
Now that I know the true nature of this plant I plan to move it to a slightly sunnier position in the garden. As far as use goes the plant is most commonly brewed up as a tea or added to salads. The mint name is misleading since it does not have a refreshing minty taste (or much of a lemon taste for that matter) but has a much stronger, muskier, thyme/oregano flavor better suited to savory meals than summery beverages. I picked the flowers shown in the photo above several days ago and they have been thriving in a vase in my kitchen since without showing signs of wilt or petal drop.