I watched in amazement at this tiny hummingbird as he flitted among the bee balm blossoms in the yard. He would work all around the edges of one flower, fly off to an adjacent flower and do the same, then to another and another. After about a minute he would land on a nearby branch and rest. And then he’d repeat the same thing all over again, sometimes moving to a blooming hosta and then back to the bee balm, or sometimes to a clump of catmint nearby, and retreating back to the bee balm. It was a treat to observe and marvel at something so very small with all this energy.
The bee balm is in full bloom right now; its bright deep red petals attracting all sorts of pollinators and other visitors. In full sunshine the blooms take on an iridescent shade, and in gloomy cloudy situations the colors pop out of the otherwise green landscape. I watched the bee balm garden as the butterflies came and went, followed by the hummingbirds. Their activity was tireless, moving from one blossom to the next to the next. Then they would retire to the pine tree as if to rest, and later return back to the blossoms.
Winter can be cold, blowing, bitter, and rough. But there is also a uniquely delicate side to this season. The snow can fall quietly and softly, and it can alight on the most delicate of surfaces, gracing them with its white coating. These bee balm seed heads seemed to cup and receive the snow as it came down, holding onto it in the center. Without the weight of a wet snow, the stems stayed upright and beautiful – proud of their place in the winter wonderland around.
The heat of July has brought the summer flowers to bloom in our gardens. The coneflowers, rudbeckia, and bee balm are filling the yard with color. As I was watching the bees flit back and forth among the bee balm blossoms I looked more closely at the flower. What I saw was a “Medusa” of flowers – unkept and wild, throwing its scent into the air to attract the bees. And yet, that wildness had a unique beauty all its own – nature in her glory, whether neat and tidy or unkept and original, all serving a purpose.
Fall is quickly vanishing across our landscape. The colors that blazed so brilliantly are now gone. The leaves that valiantly clung to the tree branches have let go and fallen to the ground. We’ve been working in our yard and gardens, preparing them for winter. As I was pulling out plants that were way past their prime I found a stand of bee balm, their flowers having dropped many weeks ago. I paused for a moment and realized how beautiful this seedhead was — a globe of intricate pieces that wasn’t noticeable during its summer bloom. Sometimes I feel the need to appreciate those things that are stripped of their original beauty and taken out of the context we’re accustomed to. Here too was beauty and form, even out of season.