Aromatic agastaches



When the heat bounces off the ground and almost overwhelms you some plants are revelling in this heat. Aromatic plants with a Mediterranean provenance like the Agastache come into their own. They are fabulous additions to the summer garden adding a vertical presence, and a recent Dutch breeding has produced two crackers for the border.

'Blue Fortune’, a cross between A. rugosa (Korean Mint) and A. foeniculum (an American hyssop), was bred and selected by Gert Fortgens of the Arboretum Trompenberg in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. This has thick blue bottlebrushes and nettle like (though non-stinging) foliage that smells of mint. It’s the perfect partner for orange heleniums, but needs a warm position to grow away in spring.

Agastache ‘Blackadder’ is more Kate Moss than stubby bottle brush, with long slender spikes that display a mixture of deep black and purple as they rise through the border on slender stems. Hybridised by Coen Janssen, also from the Netherlands, and probably from the same A. rugosum and A. foeniculum cross, this provides rare hints of dark blue in a late summer border in exactly the same way that Aconitum ‘Spark’s Variety’ does. The flowers of ‘Blue Fortune’ and ‘Blackadder’ are sterile so they last a huge time in the border, from summer until the frosts, without producing stray inferior seedlings. And there’s always that hint of aniseed, liquorice and mint in the air on a hot day, a refreshing aroma as you work away in the garden.