The Perennial Plant Association is a trade organization made up of nurseries, landscapers, and other garden industry experts, dedicated to educating gardeners on exceptional perennial plants. Each year, members of the association cast their vote for a plant that they feel is worthy of the title of Perennial Plant of the Year. For the year 2007, the ballots have been cast and the votes have been counted. This year the award goes to a catmint named, "Walker's Low."
To win the award for Perennial Plant of the Year is no small feat. Members take the selection process very seriously (the percentage of ballots returned is said to be higher than that of the November general election). To be eligible to win, nominated plants need to meet or exceed the following set of performance-based criteria:
Walker's Low was introduced in Europe in 1988 and has been growing in popularity every year since. First discovered in an Irish garden by a woman named Patricia Taylor in the 1970s, its name is said to come from a place in England, and doesn't reflect its growing habits.
Botanical Name: Nepeta Faassenii
Common Name: Catmint Variety: Walker's Low
Life Cycle: Perennial
Height: Despite its name and the fact that it's considered a dwarf catmint, Walker's Low grows to a height of 2 to 3 _ ft. tall and will spread equally as wide under the right growing conditions.
Exposure: Full sun; will tolerate shade in warmer zones.
Soil: Prefers an average, well-drained soil with a neutral pH. Once established, Walker's Low is both drought and salt-tolerant.
Hardiness: Hardy to USDA Zone 3; grows best in zones 3 to 8.
Bloom Time: The first flush of flowers start blooming in early summer (May). Shearing the plant after the first flush will refresh the foliage and produce a significant second flush of long lasting blooms that extends to the first frost.
Flower: Deep lavender-blue flowers clustered on upright stems.
Foliage: Crinkled, silver-green and aromatic. The leaves have are oval shaped with strongly-toothed margins.
Propagation: Seeds, division or stem cuttings.
Suggested Use: Use Walker's Low as a companion to roses, or pair it with tickseed, foxglove, iris, daylilies, dianthus, or peonies to create a classic cottage garden look. Many gardeners also combine it with sage or thyme in the herb garden, where it is considered a reliable substitute for lavender. Once established, Walker's Low is both drought and salt-tolerant, which makes it suitable for planting in rock gardens or along walking paths and driveways.
Interesting Facts: As a family, Nepetas contain a chemical called nepatalactone, which is known to stimulate cats, although many gardeners report that Walker's Low is not as attractive to felines as other members of the Nepeta family (e.g. Nepeta cataria, a.k.a. catnip). It is considered deer and rabbit resistant, but birds, bees and butterflies find it irresistible.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
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