Monday, June 24, 2013

Catmint Is Great for the Garden Border

We find that the catmint delivers a high impact color in the Gethsemane Prayer Garden for a low cost.

We purchased five of these lavender blue plants in 2004, placing them in a highly visible location near the center of the garden. These five developed four children over the next two years; the children were moved to fill in some holes between taller evergreens. In the spring of 2009, it was time to move them again.

The catmint is vibrant in color while blooming from late May through early July, but slowly the flowers fade away. Even when we cut them back in mid-summer to strive for a second bloom, the plants did not warrant their prominent center-of-the-garden location. So in 2009 we transplanted them to the border location where they now thrill our visitors – by dividing them with the sharp push of a shovel, our five initial plants had become twenty-two.

The purple tones of the common catmint are great for providing contrast to neighboring plants. Their colors can pop when combined with a bright pink such as found in petunias. We intersperse them between dark green Austrian pines which are planted near the driveway at the front of the garden. Eventually the Austrian pines will grow into a full screen protection so people cannot see into that portion of the garden. For now, the catmint provides the visual distraction so that people see the bright purples without focusing on the garden interior.

Our catmints are large, typically growing five to eight feet across; they appear to enjoy the heavily mulched hillside of the berm. The second blossoming in August through October is somewhat smaller, possibly four to six feet wide. Between the two flowering seasons, we aggressively cut them back to eighteen inches.

The result is nearly five months of prolific blossoms. I am sure that the bees, if they could talk, would be actively thanking us. Hopefully our church visitors feel invited as well – a fully flowered prayer garden is on the other side of that berm.