How to Grow and Enjoy Bergamot

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Bergamot prefers
Bergamot prefers "wet feet" and partial shade.
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Planting bergamot in your garden will attract numbers of hummingbirds and bees.
Planting bergamot in your garden will attract numbers of hummingbirds and bees.
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A leaf of bergamot tucked in your hat will keep mosquitoes and gnats away. 
A leaf of bergamot tucked in your hat will keep mosquitoes and gnats away. 

Lately, more and more people have begun to understand just how limited — in both variety and nutritional value — our “modern” diets have become. This realization has sparked a new and widespread interest in the culinary and therapeutic uses of herbs, those plants which — although not well-known today — were, just one short generation ago, honored “guests” on the dinner tables and in the medicine chests of our grandparents’ homes. In this regular feature, MOTHER EARTH NEWS examines the availability, cultivation, and benefits of our “forgotten” vegetable foods and remedies, and — we hope — help prevent the loss of still another bit of ancestral lore.

The house we bought in the Adirondacks yielded many garden bonuses including a lilac bush, some raspberries, rhubarb, and a grapevine — but my husband and I weren’t able, at first, to identify a big stand of handsome purple flowers growing in the weedy, damp back yard.

Luckily for us, these “mystery” plants were wild bergamot (Monardo fistulosa), and they turned out to be our biggest bonus “crop” of all!

Growing Bergamot for Sheer Joy

Even If the plant had nothing but its beauty to recommend it, wild bergamot would still be worth growing. The narrow tubular flowers, which bloom from July through September, range from maroon to magenta to lilac In color and resemble a somewhat disheveled chrysanthemum atop a two-foot high, erect stalk.

  • Published on Nov 1, 1979
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