Walkers Low CatmintNepeta x faassenii ‘Walker’s Low'
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Nepeta x faassenii ‘Walker’s Low'
Outdoor Growing zone
Walker’s Low Catmint is a splendid mounding perennial, with gray-green leaves and brilliant violet-blue flowers carried in clusters for weeks and weeks. Growing just a couple of feet tall and wide, it can be in bloom from early summer into fall with a little care, and it adds those wonderful tones of gray and blue that make a garden special and photogenic. Use it spilling out of beds onto paths and paved areas, or on slopes and rocky places. It is perfect for xeric and low-water gardens, and it attracts hummingbirds and butterflies in profusion.
In full sun is the place to grow Walker’s Low Catmint. It thrives in all well-drained soil, from acid to alkaline, and in rocky soils and clays too. It is normally free of pests or diseases, untouched by deer and rabbits and resistant to pollution and salt. Cut to the ground in fall, and trim lightly after the first flush of blooms to encourage more. Very low-maintenance and drought resistant, yet truly beautiful.
Nothing sets off the colors of your garden better, and adds brightness without clashes, better than blue and gray. These colors transform an ordinary garden into something worth posting on social media, and create a tranquil space that is a joy to be in. There is literally no plant that does this better than catmint. A billowing silver mound of leaves made transcendently beautiful with long-lasting spikes of violet blue flowers, it’s a plant that once you grow it you won’t be without it. Some can grow large and floppy, and others stay disappointingly small, but Walker’s Low Catmint is simply perfect. And perfectly simple. It grows rapidly from its base each spring, soon becoming a graceful mound of stems about 2 feet tall and wide. By early summer this is topped with a profusion of short flower spikes, of violet blue flowers. These last for weeks and weeks, and the effect is transformative and unique – a visual feast that lifts and emphasizes every color it is near – and never clashes. For that professional designer look it’s essential – and so easy to grow you won’t believe it. Quickly establishing, it then resists dryness and poor soil, relishing the strong summer sun and heat of summer and never wilting. Believe it – and grow it – you will never look back to the dull old days.
Walker’s Low Catmint is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows from a sturdy root-stock each spring. It grows rapidly, reaching full size within weeks, and forming a mound of long stems that is about 2 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide, once it has been growing for a season or two. The small oval leaves, and the stems, are covered in silvery hairs, and the underlying leaf color is gray-green. The more sun it receives the grayer the leaves. These are about 1 inch long, tapering ovals with a heart-shaped base, and this plant forms a dense mound of foliage. By early summer each stem has produced a spike of blooms at the end. The many blooms are arranged in clusters along the flower spike, and each bloom is about ½ inch long, opening into an irregular trumpet shape. It is a beautiful violet-blue color. Flowers open in succession, so blooming naturally continues for weeks, and with a bit of attention you can still have this plant in bloom in fall. The whole plant is aromatic and fragrant to touch or crush. Although it isn’t the true catnip (which is Nepeta cataria) it is still slightly attractive to cats, who may brush against it or even lie on it. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies are attracted to it. It doesn’t reproduce by seed, so it won’t start sprouting where it isn’t wanted.
With its resistance to heat and sun, Walker’s Low Catmint is perfect for sunny parts of your garden. It looks fabulous edging a bed along a lawn and especially along hard surfaces, and it looks great repeated along a border, perhaps with roses or other sun-loving summer shrubs and perennials. It is also great on slopes, at the top of walls, among rocks and gravel, and even in planter boxes and pots. It’s a versatile plant that you can’t have too much off. For group planting or continuous edging, space plants 18 inches apart.
This tough plant is perfectly hardy in zone 4, and thrives all the way through zone 8.
Walker’s Low Catmint is easy to please. Plant it in full sun or at most an hour or two of shade, and in any well-drained soil. It is content in acid and alkaline soils, and in sands or clays, just as long as they don’t stay too wet, especially in winter.
Pests and diseases almost never bother this plant as long as the soil is not wet and it’s growing in the sun. Deer or rabbits normally won’t eat it either, and it needs almost no care. Basic maintenance of Walker’s Low Catmint is simple. Just cut it back to a few inches tall in late fall, once it no longer looks attractive. New growth sprouts profusely from the base and just below ground level in spring. It isn’t essential, but you can extend the blooming season by trimming off flower spikes as they finish, but the simplest approach is to wait until most of them are over and then trim the whole plant back enough to remove them all. It will soon resprout and start a whole new flowering cycle. You can also keep it a little more compact if you trim new spring growth once it is 6 inches tall, cutting an inch or two off it, encouraging branching and a denser, shorter growth.
There are about 250 species of catmint, Nepeta, growing in Europe, northern Africa and west and central Asia, but only a handful are grown in gardens, and they are all fairly similar. From a garden viewpoint, though, one of the most valuable is a hybrid plant created in the 1930’s by a Dutch nurseryman, J.H. Faassen. He (accidentally?) crossed together the dwarf catmint, Nepeta racemosa, found growing naturally in the Caucasus mountains and in northern Iran, with Nepeta nepetella, the lesser catmint from southern Europe and north Africa. The resulting hybrid is called Nepeta x faassenii. Back in the 1970s the author of gardening books, Patricia A. Taylor, was visiting Ireland. In a certain Mrs. Walker’s garden she found either a seedling of N. x faassenii or more likely a recreation of the original cross. She grew cuttings and in 1988 Four Seasons Nursery, in Norwich, England offered this plant as ‘Walker’s Low’. It is named after the low part of the garden the plant was found in, not in reference to the size of the plant, which is not especially low. It is often listed as a variety of N. racemosa.
This great plant won Perennial Plant of the Year in 2007, and an Award of Garden Merit from England’s Royal Horticultural Society in 2012. These prestigious awards tell you how great it is – and growing it will quickly show you the same thing. For low-maintenance and dry gardening it can’t be beaten, so order now – before everyone else does and our stock runs out.