Sunday, May 21, 2006

A brown anole (Anolis sagrei) inflating its dewlap early one May morning. The plant in the background is an African Blue Basil, a 2006 FNGLA Florida Plant of the Year, and one of my favorite plants in the garden. It is somewhat camphory (like Thai basil, though Thai is more minty), and I don't care much for its culinary uses, though I still use it when my Mediterranean basils have burned out in September. The African basil grows from spring to frost, covered in long blue spikes. The flowers themselves are small, bluish white and short-lived, but the blue calyces (modified sepals that look like flowers but are not) last for weeks. It sprouts readily in a glass on the windowsill, and has always come back from the root after a frost. Mine was hit hard by the cold here in January, and is just starting to come back into bloom.

The reason I love the plant, beyond its landscape value, is its attractiveness to honey bees. I visit my basil corner every summer morning, to marvel at the seething buzzing multitudes that hover about it.

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