Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

The problem with catmint and cats

This is my cat. And this is the way I now have to grow catmint.

With many cats, it really is true that catmint makes then behave in a really silly way. Ours likes to both chew it and roll around on it, rubbing his shoulder blades into it until it has been destroyed. He has been doing this for years but usually only in the catmint in the reasearch bed. I now grow that through an arch of stock fence. But this year he has started on the plants in the polytunnel. I pot them up nicely and next day I find he has pulledn them up again. So, I have steadily been cutting more and more sections of chicken wire as protection. I know that I was too slow to start this and have lost some stock.

I know not everyone likes cats and some actively avoid growing catmint in case it attracts cats to thier garden. But, the stuff is really good for pollinators. We grow a couple of strains - a low floppy one and a more standard upright version - and although they flower at different times and attract different bees they are both really valuable. The result is that I will continue to battle with the cat for their protection. I find that, by the end of May when the catmints are in full leaf, the cats may chew the odd bit but dont do so much damage. The protection is needed now to allow the new shoots a chance to thrive.

by rosi