The Cottage Smallholder

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Monarda and Meercat Intelligentsis have brightened our summer garden

meercat flowers

Last week I was amazed to discover that we now have the floral answer to Meercats. Nodding in the breeze and gazing across the pond. I’d love to know what this plant is called. Does anybody out there know? Until then it will be Meercat Intelligentsis v. Fascinated, as it appears to be absorbed by the view.

Last autumn I decided to replant the border on the south west side of the pond garden, where nothing much thrives. I gave the border a deep make over and discovered enough stones to provide the hardcore for a small castle and mile long drive. These are stored in a mountain under some leylandi that are due for the chop. Any offers accepted.

I had already bought most of the plants for this border from the stand outside the Secret Garden before I became engaged in heavy excavations. So the pots of promise knocked about in the garden for a good couple of months. Small plastic plant name tags are attractive to Min Pins. By the time, I had removed the stones, tiles and bricks from the border and plumped it up with compost and several shovel loads of rich food from our composter, most of the labels had been eaten.

I examined the pots carefully. The bigger plants with the hefty root balls were planted towards the back of the border and the more gnome like plants in the front rows. The Meercat Intelligentsis is taking pride of place at the back.

I am also growing Monarda (Bergamot) in our herb garden. Somehow they remind me of ostriches. It must be something to do with the long stems and feathery flower heads. I wouldn’t be surprised.if I discovered one morning that the flowers had beaks.

Monarda leaves can be used as an infusion to treat headaches and fevers. The leaves can also be added to salads. Be warned, a 3mm bit chopped extremely fine will suffice. It is packed with heavy aromatic flavours. I suspect that an infusion of this would make one ignore a headache with just one sip. It would certainly clear the airways in an instant.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat,

    There is noting better in Pimms. We’ve tried growing borage here, without success. I think it needs dirt tracks and to be left alone. Our land is too rich. Smallholders lived her for years before we came. Despite the ten year gap, all the ground is fertile and seemingly well tended. It’s only when we expand the natural borders that we hit rock. Then there are tears.

    Hi Judy,

    Thanks for the suggestions. We are now going to shift the gooseneck loosestrife to an even more dry area of this border (late autumn). It is the perfect plant for the perfect place. Hot, dry and beside a yew hedge.

    I love the look of this plant. Thanks for your input, Judy.

  2. Common name is gooseneck loosestrife. Best to keep it across the pond, where pinkish underground runners cannot intertwine with better behaved perennials. A recent garden visit had gooseneck loosestrife with gardeners garters grass, Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’, very attractive combination of white flowers with white-variegated grass (also with thuggish tendencies.) And I’ve paired the loosestrife with beebalm, Monarda didyma. My theory: if you have plants with aggressive habits, plant them with aggressive neighbors and let them interweave, rather than have one plant overrun the other.


  3. Fiona, I love your description of the plant!!! I just love meercats!!! I grew Monarda once, back in the US and the stuff went rampant and took over. The same with borage. Have tried growing some borage here, but it didn’t spread like back in the US. Nice to put in Pimms.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Thanks for giving me the correct name, Celia, much appreciated.

  5. I saw this when I visited Audley End gardens the other week – it’s lysimachia clethroides.
    It’s a member of the Loosestrife family – like Purple Loosestrife that grows besides rivers and ponds. But watch out – those meercats can be invasive!!!

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