Tag Archives: catmint

Hanging with the bees

One of my favorite things to do is to sit on my front sidewalk amongst the Catmint plants (c’mon, don’t judge) and watch the bees jump from bloom to bloom. It is my own form of meditation.

Here is a sample of my happy place:  

Trying to capture the quick moving bees on camera is a challenge but one I am always trying to perfect:

I’m getting there but I can do better.


The garden is coming together

This weekend was the first time I noticed that the garden was starting to “pull it all together”. By that I mean, it is becoming less and less about the individual plants and more about how they act together as a whole. A collection of plants is becoming a “garden”.
Here are some samples of the “garden”:
Panicum (Switch Grass) ‘Rotstrahlbusch’, Monarda (Bee Balm) and Juniper ‘Wichita Blue’

Achillea ‘Moonwalker’, Sedum ‘Matrona’ and Sorghastrum (Indian Grass) ‘Sioux Blue’ 

Too many mention

Astilbe ‘Deutschland’ and Physocarpus (Ninebark) ‘Diablo’

Mountain Mint, Panicum (Switch Grass) ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ and Monarda (Bee Balm)

Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’ and Miscanthus ‘Variegatus’

Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’, Viburnum ‘Emerald Lustre’ and Amsonia (Eastern Bluestar) ‘Tabernaemontana’

Again, too many to mention

Viburnum ‘Aurora’ and Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’

Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’, Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats) and Panicum ‘Northwind’

Geranium ‘Brookside’, Asclepias Incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) and Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’

Astilbe ‘Deutschland’ and Nepeta (Catmint) ‘Walker’s Low’

Little of everything

Angerus sisterium and Runningus brotherium

Revengus brotherium (rare cultivar) and Runningus sisterium


Slipanslideum (Male version, less hardy)
Keep these plants active and outdoors and they agree to photos like this:
And they even eat lunch sitting NEXT to each other:
A great weekend on many fronts.

“Prune in June” – Cleaning up – UPDATE

During the last week of June, I severely cut back three groups of perennials as a means to “clean them up”, as all three had bloomed their asses off and were now looking tired and spent. 
I knew they would bounce back rather quickly with nice clean foliage and some new blooms and I’m here today to show you that they came through with flying colors.
#1 – Tradescantia (Spiderwort) ‘Sweet Kate’:
After the the big cut back:      
And how they looked about two weeks later:

And five weeks later … :

… with some periodic re-bloom to boot:

#2 – Geranium ‘Brookside’:

The day of their haircut:

And as of this evening:

#3 – Nepeta (Catmint) ‘Walker’s Low’:

Sheared back:

And now sporting cleaner foliage and some blooms (not to mention the bees are back in droves):

While cutting back your perennials seems like a frightening proposition at first, I would actually be more frightened to leave them untouched. Trust me, it gets ugly.

If you chop them back (assuming you did your research and you know which ones are “choppable”), in two to three weeks time they will look better than they did right before they were snipped.

Remember, “Just prune it”.


“Prune in June” – Cleaning up

It might be July, but you’ll have to trust me that I accomplished the following tasks while it was still June.
So no deep pruning discussions today, just some simple cutting back to clean up some spent blooms/foliage with the hope that the foliage will bounce back all nice and neat and maybe a second set of blooms in late summer.
First off, Nepeta (Catmint) ‘Walker’s Low’. Here at its peak:   

And then looking a little spent:

So, whack, all have been cut back:

More to come in a future post to show you how well they have bounced back:

On to Tradescantia (Spiderwort) ‘Sweet Kate’. Looking good and healthy in the spring:

In bloom and still holding up:

Out come the shears and they’ve been cut to the ground. Didn’t take long to see immediate foliage regrowth:

Finally, Geranium ‘Brookside’ looking good a few weeks ago:

And then looking severely spent today:

Thwack! Now we wait for the inevitable nice foliage mound to come back:

As with previous “Prune in June” posts, I’ll post additional photos as these perennials reinvent themselves over the next few weeks.



Nepeta ‘ Walkers Low’

My last entry touched on those plants that are still holding up this far into the Fall. One of those that is still standing with pride is Catmint (Nepeta) ‘Walker’s Low’.   

This perennial has been a reliable and maintenance free performer since I planted a bunch of them a few years ago. I’m sure many of you are already familiar with this gem, but if not, some factoids for you:

  • The typical size is about 30″ x 36″ so make sure it is given enough room to mature as often the tags on these indicate they are smaller. Each spring I consider moving mine closer together as there appears to be too much space between them

            Only to see them fill in completely later in the season

  • Here in zone 6B, it starts blooming in late spring and will bloom into October if pruned/sheared appropriately. Speaking of which …
  • If sheared by about 2/3 in early summer, ‘Walker’s Low’ will bloom again in late August and the foliage will come back cleaner as well.
  • The blooms are a beautiful blue/violet color 
  • The foliage is a grey/green color and is aromatic if you brush against it. And because of that …
  • It is both deer and rabbit resistant. Mine have never been touched and that is saying something.
  • Nepeta prefers sunny and hot conditions and therefore well draining soil. Fortunately for me, I have mine in the only spot in my entire yard where the soil drains exceptionally well.They are planted in the sandy soil that was added when my walkway was constructed. I have tried these in other not so well draining areas and they have never survived the winter.  
  • Was named the Perennial Plant of the Year in 2007 by the PPA.
  • The cultivar name ‘Walker’s Low’ comes from the name of a garden in England. Do not expect this tough performer to stay “low”. 
  • Was introduced to the public in England in 1988.
  • Prefers full sun but can handle partial shade. I have mine in partial shade and they have performed amazingly well.
  • It is a magnet for bees and the collective humming sound in the summer can’t be topped           
  • Survives in zones 3-8.
  • For design purposes, it looks great if planted underneath rose bushes not only because of the color/texture contrast, but because the foliage conveniently covers the not so great looking lower foliage on the roses. Of course, I swore of roses earlier this summer, so this doesn’t apply to me.
  • For my design purposes, I use these as a ground cover to soften the edges of my front walkway.

  • Walker’s Low’ mixes and matches well with other shrubs/perennials

You like? Me too.

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The Natives are restless

It has become a Mother’s day tradition (OK only for the past three years) at the ONG household. We make Mom breakfast in bed (and the term “make” is a bit of a stretch) and then the kids and I go out for the morning/afternoon to give Mom a truly deserved day off from being all mom-ish. We will go out to lunch and then we head for the Bowman Hill native plant sale in New Hope, PA (click here to read more). I spend the prior week studying their catalog in great detail and I identify which native plants will work for me and I bring that list with me. Then the spending spree begins and I purchase a ton of plants I had never heard of before. Below is a photo of everything I bought earlier today;        

What are native plants and why should you buy them? Glad you asked … school is in session (and my apologies to all those who know this already).

Native plants are those plants that grow naturally in your particular region and have grown there for a long period of time. They thrive under your region’s conditions and require very little maintenance. Here are some reasons why you should go native already:
  • As previously mentioned, these plants are way low maintenance since they have existed in the wild for a long period of time without any special TLC.
  • Very little water is required in allowing these guys to thrive. Umm … hello … good thing! 
  • Natives have developed natural resistance to diseases and insects which make them even more appealing.
  • By planting native, you are keeping with the natural and unique look of your area and that will keep your garden from looking  so cookie-cutter.
  • In my simple words – you keep shit the way it is supposed to be. The whole balance of nature is not disrupted and you my friend will have good karma. The wildlife will get what they need and keep that whole circle of life thing going.

Now to keep it real, I don’t only plant native. There are just too many non-natives that rock. But by educating yourself on what the native plants are in your region, you may find that there is a native plant that will serve the same purpose, or give you the look and feel you are going for with a non-native. 

Here are some native plants I have purchased in the past that are absolutely kicking butt today:
Lobelia Siphilitica
Amsonia Tabernaemontana
Chelone Glabra
Phlox Paniculata 
Aster (Purple Dome)
Chasmanthium Latifolium (Northern Sea Oats)
Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
OK … enough of the preaching … for your viewing pleasure here are some updated photos from the garden this afternoon:  

Peonies, Campanulas, and Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’.

Super blooms on the Ninebark ‘Summer Wine’.

Cascading branches on the same Ninebark.

Another view of a Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’.

Bloom on the Astilbe ‘Deutschland’.

Nepeta (Catmint) in near full bloom.

Close up shot of the Catmint blooms.

Nice big bud forming on the Iris ‘Snow Queen’. 

The buds are forming on the Camassia Esculenta. It worked … it friggin worked … successful bulbs!  

Amsonia is blooming for the first time. Loooove this native (wait until you see photos of the yellow fall color).

The ornamental grasses (Panicum) I butchered/divided into three a few weeks ago are all thriving. Tough little bastards.

I don’t do it enough … here are some Peony blooms brought indoors.

That’s all folks. If you’re reading this far down – thank you.