Tag Archives: Recreation

Writers and Cats~


We recently took in an unusual barn kitty, the part Siamese offspring of a tabby mama.  A tiny runt, Pavel (pronounced Pabel) was half the size of his robust litter mates.   We’re told he was born pink and hairless, so must have been a premie.

Feisty,  we guess that’s how he survived, this determined little guy can be very sweet and purry when he so desires and has brought much pleasure  into our life.  I particularly like it when he cuddles with me.  Mostly he wants to play and practice his pouncing.  Our two older cats Percy and Minnie Mae are gradually adjusting to him, although relationships have been strained.  They were once the new kid who had to gain acceptance among the ranks.  I tell them sometimes you just need a kitten.

“It is impossible to keep a straight face in the presence of one or more kittens.” ~Cynthia E. Varnado

“A catless writer is almost inconceivable.  It’s a perverse taste, really, since it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat; they make nests in the notes and bite the end of the pen and walk on the typewriter keys.”  ~Barbara Holland

(Pavel and my little pom poo Sadie Sue sitting with me as I write).

“The cat could very well be man’s best friend but would never stoop to admitting it.”  ~Doug Larson

“There has never been a cat
Who couldn’t calm me down
By walking slowly
Past my chair.”
~Rod McKuen

“I had been told that the training procedure with cats was difficult.  It’s not.  Mine had me trained in two days.”  ~Bill Dana

“If there is one spot of sun spilling onto the floor, a cat will find it and soak it up.”  ~J.A. McIntosh

“No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch.”  ~Leo Dworken

“Kittens believe that all nature is occupied with their diversion.”  ~F.A. Paradis de Moncrif

*Images by daughter Elise

TREASURE QUEST: DISCOVERY LIES BETWEEN THE COVERS: MEGA AUTHOR BLOG HOP TOUR (July 18-25)


TOUR RULES: (I didn’t write them) 🙂

1)  HAVE FUN!

2)  INVITE ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS! SPREAD THE WORD!

3)  THIS TOUR STARTS:  Monday, July 18, at Midnight (Arizona Time) THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, July 25, at Midnight (Arizona Time) Winners will be drawn and posted July 26th! ***

4)  MEET AND MINGLE WITH ALL THE AUTHORS! EXPERIENCE A NEW PARTY DESTINATION AT EVERY STOP! PARTICIPATE IN EVERY BLOG CONTEST AND BE ENTERED FOR CHANCES TO WIN MULTIPLE PRIZES! EVERY BLOG VISITED IS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO WIN!!

5)  PARTICIPATION AT ALL BLOGS IS RECOMMENDED, BUT NOT REQUIRED. REMEMBER, THE MORE BLOGS YOU HOP, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING PRIZES. EVERY AUTHOR IS WAITING TO MEET AND INTERACT WITH YOU, SO PLEASE BE SURE TO SHOW EVERY AUTHOR SOME LOVE!

6)  DID I MENTION TO HAVE FUN?  WHOO! HOO!! HERE WE GOOOOOOOOOOOO!

***Authors have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of  win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this blog hop tour is subject to these rules***

Undiscovered Treasure in the New World~

To quote Shakespeare, ‘All that glitters Is not gold,’ but SOME of it is.  The lure of buried treasure, an occasional flight of fancy for some and a soul-selling obsession for others, is an ageless fascination.  No soul bartering here, but I’ve done some research for would be treasure hunters and discovered  there are many yet undiscovered troves in America.  Apparently in every state according to the book Buried Treasures You Can Find by Robert F. Marx.   An interesting and informative read, however the font size decreases to minuscule proportions when Mr. Marx reaches the part of the book where he actually lists possible sites, so don’t expect me to recap without a magnifying glass.  Instead I’ll touch on some of his general  guidelines.  I, for one, would be happy to discover even a single gold doubloon , but it would have to wash ashore.  I’m not scuba diving.

Author Robert Marx has been treasure-seeking ever since he quit his newspaper route as a youth and has recovered an astonishing array of lost, hidden, or mislaid treasure both on land and plucked from the depths of the sea. First of all, he says you need a good metal detector and devotes pages to weighing the merits of various kinds.  Agreed, a premier detector would be fun to have, and considering I live in historic Virginia, I might actually find a Civil War button or something from the past which would thrill me.   Bear in mind that I’m easily delighted.  I once unearthed what I thought were shards of old pottery while planting a peach tree that turned out to be the remnants of an antiquated septic system.  Not very exciting.  However, my determination to dig the hole deeper in search of my imagined find got the tree planted in a hurry.  The most I’ve ever unearthed on our farm are old medicine bottles, but I’m fond of old bottles and have a kitchen windowsill filled with them.

The next step Mr. Marx advises after you’ve conducted a thorough study of metal detectors (I haven’t) and made your purchase is to learn how to use it properly and practice, practice.  Yada, yada,  we’re up to page 63 now–this book is for serious seekers–when he describes some of the most famous still to be discovered caches, also discussing WHY people bury treasure.    I assumed because they didn’t want thieves to find it, but there’s more.  In Colonial America banks were rare and often unavailable so most people buried money on their property.  Indians might suddenly attack  or the British were coming, so they prepared for calamities, possibly dying before recovering their money.

During the Civil War people in the South buried their treasures not only to keep them out of enemy hands but to avoid having to donate to the Confederate Treasury for the war effort.  As before, the ‘safest bank’ was a hole in the ground or some other secret location.  Some of the largest undiscovered treasures occurred during the Civil War: Excerpted from the book Civil War Gold & Other Lost Treasures by W. Craig Gaines. “The really big lost treasure is that of the Confederate Treasury in custody of Jeff Davis upon leaving Richmond, fleeing the Yankee hordes. Portions of it are believed to be in Greene & Morgan Counties of Georgia. The combined hoard is believed to be between $500,000 and $600,000 in gold, the combined values of the Richmond Bank & Confederate Treasury. Most made it to Washington, Georgia, but an untold amount remains unaccounted for.”

On the Western frontier, there were many cutthroats who preyed on hapless pioneers, and Lord knows those gold prospectors were justifiably paranoid.  So they kept their big strikes secret, some taking that knowledge with them to the grave.  And there were the gamblers, soldiers, saloon keepers…who hid their earnings.  Not to mention the stage-coach robbers who hid their  loot while escaping from the posse,  thinking to return for it later. But they didn’t all.   Get the picture?  Untold treasure is still out there–somewhere.

If you’re seeking a specific cache, and there are some famous ones, Mr. Marx says to first be certain it truly exists and isn’t the stuff of legend.  Would you believe some disreputable people will  try to sell you treasure maps that aren’t actually genuine.  *Shakes head.

Mr. Marx suggests seeking documentation recorded as closely to the time of the original event as possible and that old newspapers and books are a valuable resource.  If you’re just searching out potential historic sites, then he suggests ports, river banks, anywhere construction is moving earth, old homes, ghost towns, abandoned trash dumps from bygone days… Mr. Marx has oodles of suggestions and lists them by state.

***As a participating author in this Treasure Quest Blog Hop,  the book of mine that best fits the theme is light paranormal/time travel romance Somewhere My Lassin which the hero and heroine seek an ancient relic with miraculous powers.   So I’m giving away three digital downloads of this novella chosen from visitors who leaves me a comment (remember to leave a contact email too).

Blurb for Somewhere My Lass:

Neil MacKenzie’s well ordered life turns to chaos when Mora Campbell shows up claiming he’s her fiancé from 1602 Scotland. Her avowal that she was chased to the future by clan chieftain, Red MacDonald, is utter nonsense, and Neil must convince her that she is just addled from a blow to her head–or so he believes until the MacDonald himself shows up wanting blood.

Mora knows the Neil of the future is truly her beloved Niall who disappeared from the past. Although her kinsmen believe he’s dead, and she is now destined to marry Niall’s brother, she’s convinced that if she and Neil return to the past, all will be right. The only problem is how to get back to 1602 before it’s too late.

The balance of the present and future are in peril if she marries another, and the Neil of the present will cease to exist. An ancient relic and a few good friends in the future help pave the way back to the past, but will Mora and Neil be too late to save a love that began centuries before?~

Any treasure hunters out there?  If so, happy hunting!

****For the next stop on this Mega Author Blog Hop please pop into: http://iousex.blogspot.com/2011/07/treasure-quest-discovery-lies-between.html

 

 

 

Spring Is When the Meadowlark Sings~


Flashes of lightning and the rumble of an approaching thunderstorm woke me early this morning.  Typical crazy March weather here in the Shenandoah Valley.  Yesterday a cold snap followed on the heels of several wonderfully balmy days.  The weatherman predicts more storms this afternoon, but we’re glad for the rain after last summer’s drought and a fairly dry winter.  Cold, but dry.  Now we’re catching up on some much-needed moisture.

Ducks and geese love all the puddles that come with the rain, and our pond is finally full again after dwindling to a sad state last summer. Happy quacks resound against the lovely trill of the meadowlark, my favorite songbird.  Also, one of the first signs of spring.  My goal is to ever actually see one of these elusive birds again.  Supposedly, this shouldn’t such a challenge.  Once or twice, I’ve glimpsed a yellow flash  and spotted the bird perched on a fence post before it flew.  Mostly, though, they hide in the grass and skim away to another spot before I get a good look, calling all the while from various positions in the meadow.

Last spring daughter Elise and I were determined to track down the evasive songster and tenaciously followed its calls, even climbed over the fence into the neighbor’s pasture and picked our way along the little creek, but never caught up with that bird, or birds.  There may have been more than one.  So unless I catch another rare glimpse, I must content myself with their beautiful trills.  Birds like this need tall grasses and untidy hedge rows for nesting.  Bear that in mind in your own yard and garden.  Keeping everything trim and cultivated robs our feathered friends of habitat.  It’s also a good excuse for a less than perfectly kept landscape.     A little wilderness here and there is a good thing.

We have the Eastern Meadowlark.  For more on that variety click here.

For more on the Western Meadowlark~

*Images of our farm taken by daughter Elise. Royalty free Image of meadowlark–until we can finally photograph one.

Cats


In our family, when the going gets tough, the tough get kittens.  Considering how this year has gone so far, it’s about time for a new kitten.  We love our cats.  Well, most of the time.

Two of my favorite things are cats and books and the two seem to go together very well.  I also have a small dog who snoozes beside me as I read and write, but our gray tabby Percy is always at the ready for a good cuddle and a nap.   Our shy cat Minnie Mae is more likely to perch nearby.  We also have a number of barn kitties, but that’s another story.  We used to have two oriental shorthair cats, Gabby and her son Pookah, who lived with us in the house for years until they died and I miss them.  Fascinating breed.  I’m partial to Orientals, and of course, tabbies and other down to earth cats~

A meow massages the heart. – Stuart McMillan

“You can’t help that. We’re all mad here.” – The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland

“No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” – Mark Twain

“You can keep a dog; but it is the cat who keeps people, because cats find humans useful domestic animals.”- George Mikes

“Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.” – Anonymous

“Cats are kindly masters, just so long as you remember your place.”- Paul Gray

“One must love a cat on its own terms.”- Paul Gray

Cats can be cooperative when something feels good, which, to a cat, is the way everything is supposed to feel as much of the time as possible. – Roger Caras

By and large, people who enjoy teaching animals to roll over will find themselves happier with a dog. – Barbara Holland

Cats are the ultimate narcissists. You can tell this by all the time they spend on personal grooming. Dogs aren’t like this. A dog’s idea of personal grooming is to roll in a dead fish. – James Gorman

As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the human kind. – Cleveland Amory

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats. – Albert Schweitzer

There are few things in life more heartwarming than to be welcomed by a cat. – Tay Hohoff

Most beds sleep up to six cats. Ten cats without the owner. – Stephen Baker

There is no more intrepid explorer than a kitten. – Jules Champfleury

Cats are smarter than dogs. You can’t get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.” – Jeff Valdez

“You can not look at a sleeping cat and feel tense.” – Jane Pauley

“The really great thing about cats is their endless variety. One can pick a cat to fit almost any kind of decor, color, scheme, income, personality, mood. But under the fur, whatever color it may be, there still lies, essentially unchanged, one of the world’s free souls.” – Eric Gurney

“I found out why cats drink out of the toilet. My mother told me it’s because the water is cold in there. And I’m like: How did my mother know that?” – Wendy Liebman

“An ordinary kitten will ask more questions than any five year old.” – Carl Van Vechten

“If the pull of the outside world is strong, there is also a pull towards the human. The cat may disappear on its own errands, but sooner or later, it returns once again for a little while, to greet us with its own type of love. Independent as they are, cats find more than pleasure in our company.”- Lloyd Alexander

Every life should have nine cats. – Anonymous

You are my cat and I am your human. – Hilaire Belloc

Thoughts


Thoughts are winged butterflies, if I don’t capture them they flutter away.  I’m so sure I’ll remember something that occurs to me in the night for a story, but later the thought evades me and is gone…mist evaporated in the sun, silvered moonbeams slipping away as the dreamworld fades.   I need some recess in my mind to store these thoughts and return to them later, like a squirrel scampering back to its storehouse of nuts.  But even squirrels forget where they stashed their acorns.  That’s why we have so many oak trees in the forest.

“A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labour and there is an invisible labour.” – Victor Hugo

“Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples don’t count on harvesting golden Delicious .” ~ Author unknown

“To find yourself, think for yourself.” ~ Socrates (BC 469-BC 399)

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you. ” ~ James Allen

“Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

“Tell your boss what you think of him and the truth shall set you free.” ~ Unknown author


One Fine Day


These pics are a photographic collage my daughter Elise took (and some by my husband) of her and my jaunt around the garden, across the meadow, past the pond, and up through the fields to the woods above our farm.~

Such an exquisitely beautiful spring day.  Pristine perfection.  Many colored tulips glow like jewels.  Virginia bluebells cover the ground in the dappled shade of the enormous maple tree.  The original plants were a gift from my late grandmother.

Lilacs and flowering crab apples scent the warm air.  Some of the lilacs have been here for half a century.  The jonquils smell wonderful.  Even the earthy fragrance of cows and hay appeals to me, an essential  part of my being.  Find your center place and you will discover what both grounds and inspires you.  For me, it’s the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains…our farm…the garden, the land.  Cherish the earth and it will richly reward you…restore your spirit.

The green meadow spreads, rippling, in the sun.  Elusive meadowlarks trill from the tall grass.  We try, but cannot find the secretive birds.  Their sweet trill beckons from here and then there, always further ahead, or then again from behind.  We are determined to find the singer but finally give up.

I once spied a meadowlark perched on a fence post, though not when I was looking for it.  That’s about as high as they fly.  The yellow on its breast was unmistakable.  What a thrill.  They are my favorite song birds.

I love the water birds too.  A type of sandpiper darts around the pond in the low muddy spots and then flies, sounding its funny cry.  There are  a number of them, and the purple martins are back.  Iridescent in the sun.  The swifts and swallows are yet to come, but the pond is glorious.   A frog plops in and we see a string of eggs in the grass at the edge.  Ducks and geese bob over the water glinting in the clear light.

Our farm is the headwaters of an unassuming little creek that flows on through other farms and past the neighboring town, and on, we suppose to the river.   It’s not a grand waterway, but how many of you can claim to live near the headwaters of anything?   So I mention it with some pride. 🙂

On we wander, back behind our farm, to the remains of an old homestead.  The house burned down years ago but a derelict outbuilding remains with a gnarled fruit tree, wild cherry I think, growing alongside it.  And an ancient barn.  There’s a grassy sort of clearing where the house and yard used to be set in amid lofty, seemingly random, trees.   A large red squirrel lives there now and a startled rabbit.  Lord only knows what else.  I suspect it’s eerie at night.  Maybe even haunted…though during the day everything appears utterly charming.

Then Elise spots the hawk we’ve been on the lookout for.  We are fortunate to photograph the majestic red-tailed bird soaring high overhead, and think he lives in the wooded hills up above the fields.  While he’s on his scouting expedition, the other creatures grow silent.  The wise ones, anyway.  I heard some foolish chatter.

The rose flush of new leaves co-mingle with the many shades of green in the trees.  So many birds call from their branches.   We seek the songsters, sometimes with luck, sometimes not, but rarely in time to snap their picture.  Red wing black birds call continuously and almost seem to accompany us from place to place.  I’ve never seen so many of them at once.  Must be a sort of bird festival.  They are quite special to me.   Song sparrows sing, a chatty mockingbird, cardinal, possibly horned larks…

Everywhere we gaze, the world is reborn.  Magical.  This is the time to savor the spirit-lifting sights, scents, and sounds.   And remember.

“I do not think I have ever seen anything more beautiful
than the bluebell I have been looking at. I know the beauty of our Lord by it.”
~ Gerald Manley Hopkins

“When bright flowers bloom
Parchment crumbles, my words fade
The pen has dropped …” ~Morpheus

“It is at the edge of a petal that love waits.”
~William Carlos Williams

“In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d
palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich
green,
with many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I
love,
With every leaf a miracle – and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.”
~Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1865

Spectacular Autumn Day


nearToddLake5
“Autumn burned brightly, a running flame
through the mountains,
a torch flung to the trees.

IMG_6045
“The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.”
~ Emily Dickinson
Nature XXVII, Autumn

Fall pic 2009
“In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Autumn Fires.

Oct2009

“Everyone must take time to sit and watch
the leaves turn.”
Elizabeth Lawrence

IMG_5972

“October is a symphony of permanence and change.”
Bonaro W. Overstreet

This One

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
Fluttering from the autumn tree.”
~Emily Bronte

Elise and her pumpkin
“October is a symphony of permanence
and change.” ~Bonaro W. Overstreet

“falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly” ~
John Bailey
Autumn, A Haiku Year.


Fall Bridge

IMG_6006
Pics by my mom, Pat Churchman, daughter Elise,
(with her heirloom pumpkin, Cinderella), and my husband.

In My Garden~


Evening primrose (4)In my garden(s), a sea of herbs and flowers continually change with the season.  Some perennials are lost each winter and new ones are planted by my daughter Elise and me, others by the birds. I’ve a wild aster covered with small white flowers that blooms from late spring into summer, very pretty re­ally. I like white flowers glowing at dusk while all else fades.

Several plants reign supreme because of Elise. ‘Magic flowers,’ yellow evening primrose, occupy a corner at the edge of the vegetable garden. She rushes me out at twilight to view the wonder as they pop open, charged with fragrance. Hummingbird moths swoop in like little fairies to feed on the blossoms.

iStock_000001550421XSmallElise doesn’t like the bats that also come. I love the nighthawks that swoop and call in the soft summer evening. Dill is another favorite because black swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on its leaves and hatch into little caterpillars which Elise watches closely, puts some into jars and feeds until they make a chrysalis, then one day they emerge with wet crumpled wings and she releases them to the sky. I feel a bit like those uncertain butterflies, taking those first tentative flights.

This is an excerpt from my non-fiction collection about country life entitled Shenandoah Watercolors.

I Love Cats


I’ve always had cats, an integral part of my world and our farm. Two reside indoors now; Minnie Mae, a funny little cat, and Percy, a manly tabby and our most recent acquisition. Percy is the ultimate lapcat who lives for cuddles. How can you not appreciate that sort of affection?

We fondly remember Gabby, a lavender Oriental Shorthair, related to the Siamese and just as vocal, and her chestnut-colored son, Pookah, named for the invisible creature that steals things. We used to call him “the paw” because of the way he opened drawers or cabinets and pilfered whatever he liked, usually hair thingies. He and Gabby were mad over scrunchies, and colorful bands that hold hair in pony tails.
Pookah was a gorgeous cat and an excellent thief, but he sucked his tail. Not very manly. A kind woman living in Florida sent us Gabby years ago to comfort the children after the tragic death of their young cousin Matthew. Gabby came to us on a plane, an odd infant highly unlike the barn cats we were accustomed to.

At first we didn’t know what to think of this little gray monkey forever disappearing into the highest cabinets or crouching on the tops of doors and wardrobes. Nor did we understand her peculiar cry, but once we learned to know her, we were hooked. That’s how we came by Pookah, the big-eared kitten we kept from a litter of three after we had Gabby bred to a fancy Siamese, Cappuccino. He wasn’t manly either.

Then there’s Minnie Mae, the tabby kitten-cat my daughter Elise and I raised from early infancy after her stray, airhead mother inadvertently left her in our care. She was so tiny she barely spanned my palm and is still small for a grown cat. Minnie Mae is a whimsical creature with a series of purrs. Elise calls the chirrupy purr when she scampers across the room, her ‘bouncing purr.’ Then there’s her inquiring purr, when she has a question, which is fairly often being a thoughtful, observant cat. Her excited purr hums forth when she greets us after a long absence, say overnight. She sleeps outside hubby and my bedroom door and eagerly awaits the dawn.

When I was a child I listened repeatedly to a favorite record that I still have about the adventures of Dick Whittington and his cat. Dick would exclaim: “Here comes Ripple Dee Dee! Oh, cat, I love you very much.” And I do. All of them.

Below is the recipe we use for feeding orphan kittens  (given to us by the wife of a local veterinarian who recommends it).  If the kitten is very small, you will need to purchase a tiny bottle from a pet supply store for feeding, and until the kitten can bathroom itself, you will have to massage its rear end several times a day with a warm damp cloth to imitate the mother cat’s licking.

Recipe:

8 ounces of whole milk, 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp all purpose vegetable oil, 1-2 drops pediatric vitamins.  Whisk together and store in the fridge, warming up small amounts as needed.  An orphan kitten must eat every few hours.  Introduce kitten chow at 4-6 weeks and wean from this milk-based formula.

Beth Trissel
http://www.bethtrissel.com/

Try Your Hand at Growing Bee Balm~One of My Favorites!


If you delight in fruity minty fragrance and the sight of hummingbirds hovering above brilliant tubular blossoms, try your hand at growing bee balm. This Native American herb, also called wild bergamot and Monarda, is available in crimson, pink and purple flowers. As its name suggests, bee balm is attractive to honey bees. Butterflies also favor it. The red variety is commonly known as Oswego Tea and was used by colonists in place of English Tea after the Boston Tea Party, when they threw the English tea in the harbor to protest the tax imposed on it by the British.

To make a cup of tea, place a tablespoon of fresh or one teaspoon of dried bee balm leaves in a tea strainer or tea spoon and pour one cup of boiling water over it. Allow it to steep for ten minutes and bring the tea out. Sweeten if you wish and enjoy. The leaves can be chopped and added to salads. Flowers can also be used for tea or salads, but in my thinking that’s just wrong.

Bee Balm has a long history of medicinal use by American Indians and settlers, primarily for stomach and bronchial ailments, and is the source for the antiseptic derivative called Thymol.

I haven’t used the plant medicinally, but enjoy its beauty and delicious scent in the garden. Hummingbirds appear without fail when my patch of bee balm thrives. Recent droughts have hurt it, so this year I’m setting out yet more starts of this invaluable herb.

You can grow bee balm in among other plants, but take care that it isn’t crowded out, a mistake I’ve made. And it’s susceptible to mildew, so sunshine and good air circulation are important. Some recommended companion plants for bee balm are: purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), black eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), and lavender (Lavandula).