Blue and white minty marvels

November 20th, 2015 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Calamintha 'Marvelette White'It’s refreshing when new varieties come along where the main feature is not larger flowers or dwarf and dumpy growth and they’re not just a minor variant of something we know well. Not another marigold that’s shorter than all the others. So the ‘Marvelette’ calamints are refreshingly welcome.

And, just to be clear, these are calamints not catmints. The two plants are related, yes, but the calamints, Calamintha nepeta, have smaller two lipped flowers in huge quantities and the foliage is delightfully aromatic with hints of mint and oregano and a little catmint as well.

The problem with the usual forms that have been around for years is that they tend to be spindly and floppy. ‘Marvelette Blue’ and ‘Marvelette White’ are genuine improvements: they reach about 30cm, they’re self supporting, they branch well and the stems are crowded with flowers which the bees love.

They also flower reliably from seed in their first year: sow the seeds in April and flowering should begin about three months later; snip off the flower stems as they fade and colour will continue into the autumn. They do it all again, year after year.

Calamintha 'Marvelette Blue'Grow them as neat little specimens in 30cm pots; use then to edge paths; slip them in to fill spaces between other perennials; cut them for dainty little posies. Sun, and soil that’s not soggy – that’s all they need.

Just as confirmation of the quality of these two newcomers, ‘Marvelette Blue’ has been awarded a Gold Medal from Fleuroselect, the Pan-European flower seed organisation, and although ‘Marvelette White’ didn’t quite make Gold but it’s nevertheless Approved. (I know, “Approved” doesn’t sound very special but in fact it is.)

Anyway, you can order a mixture of Calamintha ‘Marvelette Blue’ and ‘Marvelette White’ – when the seedlings come up, the ones with paler leaves will have white flowers.

* Here on the Plant Talk blog this time last year: Super new cut flower zinnias

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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