For the past three years I’ve read many of my garden blogging friends extol the virtues of Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ and Obedient Plant. As I browsed my local nurseries this spring, I came across both of these plants at reasonable prices, so I took the plunge and brought them home.
The problem was finding an appropriate place to put them Obedient Plant has a reputation of being a bit of a thug, invading spaces and choking out its neighbors. It seems that the Nepeta isn’t as invasive, but it can form quite a large mound. Clearly, there is not room in my main rock garden for plants that behave that way:I chose a spot in front of another rock wall, to the side of the vegetable garden, where I am willing to let plants spread and grow more naturally. Last summer I planted a Joe Pye Weed in the corner formed by the rocks and the garden; this spring I transplanted some oregano and sage along one section. This morning I extended the very rough bed and installed my four plugs of Obedient Plant ‘Crown White’ (Physostegia virginiana, also known as False Dragonhead or Dragon Flower) and a four-inch pot of Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (commonly called catmint). This location receives almost full sun exposure, and stays moderately moist much of the summer. Digging holes large enough for even small plants is not a trivial matter! I tucked three of the Obedient Plants into small hollows I dug just under the rocks, and filled in the spaces with plenty of soil. It’s a technique I’ve had to use frequently around my landscape, and it works well most of the time! I built each plant its own little retaining wall to help keep the soil in place. I also tucked in a few slips from my well established succulents here and there, to provide a ground cover until the plants themselves take over. I won’t care if they eventually get choked out. While digging around these boulders, I had the eerie feeling that I was not alone! Several times I was startled by the sound of an animal nearby. Upon investigation, I determined that the sound came from a small tunnel in the rocks. Occasionally I heard some small stones fall, and I even saw some dirt shower down and out of the tunnel. I suspect the Chuck family is doing some home renovation in this, their entry hall.Common sense dictated that I not put a plant directly in front of this hole. Now, I just hope the woodchucks don’t like Obedient Plant or catmint! I think I’m safe!
I was fortunate to find a relatively easy spot to dig a hole large enough for the Nepeta–just a handful of small rocks to pull out here!I’ll have to remember to get back there and give these new babies a little extra water throughout this season until they’re well established. I’ll clip the Nepeta back once the current blooms fade to encourage another flush of bloom.