The catmints tend to be excellent nectar flowers - Nepeta x faassenii 'Six Hills Giant' being perhaps the most commonly grown out there, which can heave with bees.

So I was pleased while hunting around a garden centre at the weekend to see yet another cultivar 'doing the business' on the bee front - and with a butterfly indulging too.

The plant is Nepeta 'Walkers Low', which some people list as another x faassenii cultivar, while others call it a cultivar of Nepeta racemosa, originally a wild plant from the Caucasus. The RHS go with the latter, so I won't argue!

It grows to maybe 60cm (2 foot) tall, forming a good clump of rather greyish leaves with neatly serrated edges, and then sprouting numerous upright stems decked with, for catmints, quite large  flowers, big-lipped and mauve.

Here (left) is my Small White butterfly and bumble playing good neighbours.

I normally avoid catmints like the plague, not because I don't like them (I love them) but because the local cats like them even more than I do and will trash them within days. Now I have read that cats are not so keen on Walkers Low, but at £6.99 it was too expensive as an experiment. But if you have catmint experiences you'd like to share - good or bad - you know what to do: add a comment!

Anonymous
  • Thanks, for your comments folks. Maybe I'll be brave and give Six Hills Giant another try. I remember first seeing it at The Eden Project used in giant swathes in their open air garden - what a haze of delight.

  • Eliana

    I also have a lot of catmint in my garden and the neighbouring cats completely ignore it but the insects love it.

  • I also have Six Hills Giant and it lives up to it's name.  Flowering all summer long, the pretty mauve-blue flowers attract plenty of bees and other insects.  My cat likes to sit chewing the leaves or rolling in it but has never caused any obvious damage and neighbouring cats don't seem to be attracted to it.  I have several plants together in a clump so if any die, which they do if you let them get too large and woody, I always have more to replace them. Its a great plant to encourage insects which will then help to pollinate your vegetables!

  • My cat ignores my catmint too - I am not sure of the variety - it has a very long flowering period, seeming to be in flower from about April to October (a second flush comes if you chop the first dying flower stems), a single plant grows to almost 5' across, looks so pretty and it is always buzzing with insects - I reckon it's best value plant in my garden and a wildlife star!

  • I had Six Hills Giant in my garden for years. The bees and insects loved it but strangely my two cats usually ignored it. They also ignore any toys stuffed with catmint.  My plant died last winter so I must buy some more seed or plants for this summer as personally, I do love it.