Catmints (or nepetas) are not generally thought of as especially exciting plants, but a catmint in a new colour caught the attention of many Chelsea visitors who stopped by the Chelsea Plant Of The Year exhibit in the Great Pavilion this year.
It was discovered by Sonia Wright at her nursery near Devizes in Wiltshire, and Sonia told me how it came about.
“Nepeta × faassenii ‘Crystal Cloud’ was a chance find about three years ago while I was weeding my gravel garden. The plant was so small that I almost trod on it and, even though only 7.5cm (3in) high, it was flowering quite determinedly and was noticeably a very different colour - a really pretty pale blue.
“I grow a wide variety of catmints at my nursery, including a really good cultivar called N. racemosa ‘Best Blue’ from Cally Gardens in Scotland, which I am pretty sure is a parent. Around that time I also grew a white form of N. × faassenii which was not strong and soon discarded as a bit of a failure, but that might be in the mix.
“‘Crystal Cloud’ is compact, looks good in a pot, is a plant people know and it’s not too challenging to grow, which I think gives it a good chance to hold its own in a plethora of new introductions which are not stayers.”
Reaching about 50cm (20in) in height, the pale blue colouring is unique among catmints but ‘Crystal Cloud’ is just as easy to grow as existing varieties.
Nepeta × faassenii ‘Crystal Cloud’ is available from Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants.
*Please note that the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author, which are not necessarily those of the RHS