Monday, June 24, 2013

Today's Bee Plant: Baptisia

I saw this plant in a garden yesterday, and noted a bee was enthusiastically diving for nectar in its blossoms. "It looks like a yellow Baptisia," I said aloud. (Actually I think I said Baptista by mistake, perhaps because I live in a city with an infestation of baristas.) I was told it was not, could not be a yellow Baptisia and certainly not a Baptista of any shade. Well folks, turns out there is such a thing as a yellow Baptisia, and in fact it comes in all sorts of colours besides the classic purple North American native false indigo (Baptisia australis), including more than one shade of yellow. Furthermore, in this wonderful article by Cheryll Greenwood Kinsley, you will find that Baptisia is heat and drought tolerant, deer resistant, and in some situations, easier to grow than lupins.

We had some Baptisia australis at the MOP Garden, in the same sunny dry bed as native lupins, and they both seemed to do well. False indigo is a dye plant, with the Latin name referring to the dipping of cloth into water--think "baptism." The yellow plant above was getting leggy and needed support--I had the feeling it could have used a bit more sun, but it was doing all right. This would be an excellent choice for a cottage bee garden.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of this skinny syrphid posing on a Euphorbia.

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