The pretty and bee-friendly Melittis melissophyllum rejoices in the robust and no nonsense common name of Bastard Balm.
I can only assume it is called this because it is “similar”to the other balms… but not quite the ticket. It shares its Latin “bee” root with another balm, Melissa officinalis the lovely lemon balm which I have grown from seed and planted in the Empty Garden. They are both part of the huge Lamiaceae mint family, much loved of bees.
I am going to try to grow Bastard balm and have some seed for next year but have also ordered some plants from the excellent Bee Happy Plants. Their seeds have been very slow to germinate this year but I am still hopeful. Not sure it will like my heavy clay soil but it’s worth a go.
The arrival of any flowers here in the Empty Garden has been agonisingly slow, this miserable weather has not helped at all and time to plant and sow has been very limited, but it has been fascinating to observe which bees have used which flowers.. more on that and garden progress soon.
But meanwhile here is the second bee commission for Liz, the gorgeous Common Carder Bee, Bombus pascuorum about to take a sip of nectar from the honey leaved honey flower.. First thumbnail rough..
I love to watch how bees reach out with their font legs for landing. It’s an unexpectedly human characteristic.
These past windy days have made landing a very hit and miss affair, and they really need those little hooked feet for hanging on.
Common Carder Bee, Bombus pascuorum and Bastard Balm
Watercolour and pencil on Arches HP 12” x12”