So, to digress from my chronological adventures, the following describes in photographs the various stages of bloom of BEE-BALM, a remarkable flower in the mint family. I first spotted it on Balsam Mtn. Road in the Great Smoky Mountains NP -- it took my breath away. Clicking to enlarge the closeups will give you views a casual passer-by won't usually see.
If flowers don't hold much interest for you, skip this post and go fold your laundry or something, and come back later!!!
Then, in front of the Museum in Cherokee, NC, there was a mass planting of a cultivated variety that kept the bees very busy. This variety was a magenta shade, not the fire-engine red I found growing in the wild.