Showy Calamint

Looking for a tough perennial for a sunny location with a long period of bloom?  Check out this ‘Montrose White’ showy calamint (Calamintha nepeta) which provides an airy white effect in drifts or even as a solitary specimen. I was first smitten by this perennial when I saw it years ago at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (OBG) in Madison, WI.  In fact, most of these photos are from OBG.  We now use it at RBG for the same features that are so apparent.  This selection blooms from June until frost and looks like a small baby’s breath with that wispy haze of white over the course of 4-5 months!  This selection is sterile which is important to mention as many calamint (Calamintha) selections reseed and might “move around” a bit.  Reaching about 18″ tall and 18″ wide, this European native attracts a wide range of pollinators including butterflies and LOTS of bees.  Using this plant in drifts is effective and pairing it at the base of leggy perennials helps support them and add interest.  OBG uses them extensively along the edges of paths to soften up the “transition” between path and garden bed (see above and below).  This perennial (hardy to zone 5 although I’ve seen it do fine in zone 4) is both drought tolerant and seems to shrug off summer humidity with very few insect or disease problems.  Well drained soils are ideal although this plant will grow in a wide range of soil types.  Calamintha nepeta ‘Montrose White’ is also deer resistant and while the flowers are lightly fragrant, the leaves (when crushed or bruised) have a strong minty scent.  I am a huge fan of this perennial and the photos show how impactful this strong blooming, tough perennial can be in the garden.

drifts in a gravel garden at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (Madison, WI)