Mountain mint is a native wildflower you see growing throughout Virginia during summer.
With its narrow leaves, the plant features a delicate, somewhat airy appearance, according to Helen Hamilton, president of the John Clayton Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society.
Mountain mint, botanically known as Pycnanthemum tenuifolium, is found on stream banks, moist fields and thickets in other states from Maine south to Florida and west to Oklahoma and Texas.
The species name tenuifolium is derived from the Latin tenuis, meaning "thin," which refers to its narrow leaves.
All kinds of insects, including bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers and beetles, love the flowers and their nectar, says Helen. The plant's seeds are too small to interest birds.
You can purchase Cat Springs mountain mint through Plant Delights in Raleigh, N.C.; visit http://www.plantdelights.com or call 919-772-4794. You may want to save the date, or even register extra early, because Plant Delights owner Tony Avent is a speaker at Christopher Newport University's annual gardening symposium April 16. He's one you will want to hear because his plant trips and breeding programs are known globally.
Tony claims Cat Spring mountain mint is a deer-resistant form, and is very good for your vegetable garden because it brings hoards of beneficial pollinating insects.
Locally, the Virginia Living Museum will offer it at plant sales Sept. 18-19 and 25-26.
For more information about native plants, visit the John Clayton Chapter at http://www.claytonvnps.org.
So you see it
The front-yard cottage garden of Linda and Joe Hertzler of Williamsburg gets a five-page spread in the August issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine. The two own and operate Hertzler and George, a landscape design, installation and maintenance firm in Williamsburg; for details, visit http://www.hertzlerandgeorge.com.
Their garden features flowers and vegetables, plus places for wildlife to scratch, eat and stay a while. Linda's favorite plants in the garden are cardoon, zinnia, okra, variegated holly and boxwood.
Read more about the garden in an August Diggin' In.
So you try it
Birds are fragile, so Gloucester gardener Dianne Jordan stays away from chemicals, including bleach, in her fountains and birdbaths where feathered friends bathe and drink.
Instead, she drops a dozen new pennies in the water each time she finishes cleaning them.
"The water stays fresh for quite awhile," she says. "You may want to try it."
So you enjoy it
I enjoy going to the Rite-Aid on Dare Road and Route 17 in York County because they are growing pretty sunflowers in soil around the building.
In addition to making you smile, sunflowers are good natural food sources for songbirds and your family. The seed heads are mature and ready for seed harvesting when the reverse side turns from green to a yellow-brown; large heads nod downward, according to Burpee.
To harvest the seeds ahead of the birds and squirrels, cut off the seed heads with a foot or so of stem attached and hang them in a warm, dry place that is well-ventilated and protected from rodents and bugs. Keep the harvested seed heads out of humidity to prevent spoilage from molds and let them cure for several weeks. When the seeds are thoroughly dried, dislodge them by rubbing two heads together, or by brushing them with your fingers or a stiff brush. Allow the seeds to dry for a few more days, and then store them in airtight glass jars in the refrigerator to retain flavor. Use nutrient-rich sunflower seeds for snacks and as a substitute for nuts in baking.
To toast the seeds to enhance their flavor, lightly brown them in a skillet over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes.
So you know it
Several readers asked how to contact the experts in last week's column about cooling fountains. For Fountain Escapes, visit 310 Grafton Drive, York County; call 596-0008. For Nickerson Landscapes in York County, visit http://nickersonlandscapes.com or call 890-0770.
Get daily gardening tips at http://www.dailypress.com/digginblog and at http://www.HRHomeandGarden.com. Home and garden events appear in the Ticket section of the Friday Daily Press. E-mail Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
•Learn how to get a blue or pink hydrangea, pointers for your water-starved yard and other daily gardening tips, news and chit-chat at dailypress.com/digginblog.