MINT (Mentha)

    

Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia & North America

The 13 to 19 species of Mint are aromatic, usually perennial herbs. They prefer damp ground, doing well in partial shade & growing in most soils. Mentha species have square stems with serrated leaves, & vigorous roots which can make this plant an invasive one. Planted in open ground, they can overwhelm other plants. Rather a mint should be planted either above ground in a container, or with the container sunk in the ground.

Applemint flwrs Ash behind

Applemint in bloom, best ever

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘the Mints have a biting, aromatick bitterish Sapor with a strong fragrant Smell abounding with a pungent Volatile Salt and a Subtil Sulphur which destroyeth Acids, and herein doth lodge the Causation of such medicinal Virtues in this Herb and others of the like Nature.’

Dr Westmacott, 1694, quoted by Maud Grieve in A Modern Herbal, 1931.

Mints were historically used as strewing herbs, spread over floors to be walked on, thus releasing their scent. They were also used medicinally, as a natural insect repellent and as flavouring for food.

“all kinds were used in food and medicine. Mint vinegar was used as a mouthwash; mint sauce restored the appetite. Used for all stomach ailments, in fevers and in treating venom and wounds. Wilfred Strabo [Abbot of Reichenau, scholar & theological writer] said in the 10th century that there were as many types of mint as the sparks that fly from Vulcan’s forge– in other words, lots!”

http://www.gallowglass.org/jadwiga/herbs/teen.htm

hoverfly or bee on applemint flowers P1040377Honeybee on Peppermint flowers

Bees’ favourite.

Mint flowers have the reputation of being irresistable to bees, and our two longtime resident mints, Apple Mint and Black Peppermint, have been bringing them in for years.

We tried growing Calamint, a native wild mint from the UK, in open ground one year. It has ACID GREEN leaves & PALE BLUE flowers dotted singly along its stems. Winter weather finished it off. We have had success, however, with growing mints in containers – Black Peppermint & Applemint. All plant growth above ground level dies back in winter, regrowing again in spring.

 

Row 1 No 1 Mint Moth on Rose stemRow 1 No 2 Mint Moth in fern bedRow 1 No 3 Mint MothRow 1 No 4 Mint Moth on Hardy G 'Wargrave Pink'

 Furry, triangular little Mint Moths (above) appeared soon after our mints were planted out, and are now part of the life of the garden.

BLACK PEPPERMINT
(Mentha x piperita)

This is a cross between Spearmint (White Mint, native to Europe) and Water Mint, hybridised in the London area shortly before the eighteenth century. Small spires of tiny, WHITE/PINK flowers appear in mid to late summer on tall stems of Mentha x piperita. Intense fragrance is released when you make contact with its leaves.

Other names: Lammint

PEPPERMINT IN FLOWER BY TALL BLUE POT, 3 sept 2014Peppermint flwr enlargePEPPERMINT FLOWERS clarified

Black Peppermint April 2015 crop

Black Peppermint April 2015

Black Peppermint flowers with bumblebee

VIDEO – BUMBLEBEE, MINT MOTH ON BLACK PEPPERMINT

APPLEMINT
(Mentha suaveolens)

Europe, Mediterranean, Africa & Asia

The aromatic Applemint has large, soft, rounded leaves on tall stems that grow to over one metre (36 inches) & will require staking. Sweetly scented, both leaves and stems are covered with a soft, furry down. In June, tiny WHITE flowers appear at the stem tips. Spires of the plant now appear to be coated with icing sugar.

Bees’ Favourite.

The flowers are visited by Bumblebees and Mint Moths, among others.

Other names: Round-leaved mint, Wooly mint.

Apple Mint foliage

The leaves of our Applemint are sometimes coated in powdery mildew by summer’s end. One year the plant blew over in high winds before it could be staked, leaning into foliage and flowers of Hardy Geraniums ‘Wargrave Pink’ and ‘Buxton’s Variety’. I left it where it was, and the powdery mildew never got to it. The Hardy G’s, free of pests and diseases, seem to have helped a neighbour resist powdery mildew. Companion planting!

Honeybee on Applemint thumbnail

Honeybee on applemint

 At the Anglo Saxon Herb Garden of Cambridge University’s Lucy Cavendish College, mints and other herbs found to have been used before 1066 are used in the planting.

http://www.lucy-cav.cam.ac.uk/assets/images/LCC_Herb_Garden_DL_Leaflet.pdf