Paul’s Plant of the Week

Monarda “Cambridge Scarlet” Bergamot

So, I thought I’d take a break from the saga of the garden planning and start a weekly feature to share some of the plants that we have planted that have brought us some joy in the garden.

I’m starting with one that was new to me this year.  When we brought it we had no real idea what it was going to turn in to, we brought it because it said the bees love it, and as one of our main aims was to attract more bees, it seemed a no brainer.

Cambridge Scarlet Bergamot

When we purchased this Monarda it was around 20 cm tall and had only three stems on it.  One of those I snapped as I clumsily planted it in the ground next to the pond.  I swore at myself and carried on anyway with the remaining two stems, and being in a bad mood I didn’t remove the stem I’d broken and left it hanging limply along the ground.

So, this was back in May when we planted it, and like many new plants I had assumed we would only get the two flowering stems this year and have to wait until next year to see anything more.  What do I know?  Nothing, it would appear.

Within a few weeks there were more shoots coming out of the ground in and around the two remaining stems, which had doubled in height, and not only that, the broken stem had also grown in length too and appeared to have a flower head on it.    By the beginning of June there were several more shoots and the plant was looking much fuller with several flower buds appearing and some starting to open.

The description on the label reads as follows:

” Plant in drifts for best effect in the middle of a sunny border.  Highly attractive to bees.  Heads of unusual, hooded, rich-red flowers appear throughout summer above neat mounds of aromatic hairy foliage.  This perennial is good in mixed beds or borders providing a splash of colour over many weeks.”

We had no idea what “unusual” meant, as I said it was the “highly attractive to bees” bit that we focussed on.

By the end of June we had around a dozen blooms and plenty more stems with the promise of more.


This is a beautiful plant – the photo above isn’t really the flower in it’s prime.  They are vivid red spiked petals sitting atop a rounder, softer, darker globe.  The stems are tall, and despite my clumsiness, fairly sturdy in a strong wind.  I haven’t found the leaves to be particularly aromatic, that said, I also haven’t shoved my nose in to them or rubbed them to see if that’s true.

What I can tell you though, is that although our garden has been full of bees and butterflies for the past couple of months I am yet to see a single bee on any of these flowers.

I would definitely recommend this plant, it’s sturdy, colourful and different.  It’s a fast grower and is really lovely in amongst other plants.

Final size is just shy of 1m high and it the spread is around half a metre.

I am tempted to get more for next year to give it real impact, however I also quite like just having the one as a stand-alone feature plant, it really holds it’s own in a busy bed.  the red lobelia next to it does compliment it beautifully in my mind.

So that’s my plant of the week this week.  If you want something a bit different but sturdy and colourful, this could be the plant for you.   It has thrived next to our pond in full sunlight.



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