The National Plant Collections presently comprise of around 95 taxa (forms) of Monarda and 108 Nepeta.
With a fabulous view looking up to Cawsand Beacon on the northern edge of Dartmoor, the collections are grown on part of a piece of land called Hole’s Meadow, one of the burgage plots of medieval origin in the village of South Zeal, near Okehampton and within the Dartmoor National Park.
These National Plant Collections of Monarda and Nepeta were developed slowly over a number of years, with the original accessions being sourced from a wide variety of excellent nurseries from within the UK and EU as well as with seeds from the US. The Collections were awarded in early 2013 by Plant Heritage*, who also supervise their ongoing status. In order to hold a Collection, as well as other criteria, one has to maintain a minimum of three of each accession.
Specialism in Monarda and Nepeta was chosen because they are both bee attractors, thus supporting the bee colonies based in the apiary on the site. When viewed together, the Collections are at their best from mid July to mid August, although the flowering season begins in late May/ early June for Nepeta and late June/ early July for Monarda.
Visitors to the Collections are very welcome, with the garden open each year for The National Garden Scheme, or to arrange a group visit. The village serves visitors extremely well with two local pubs; The Kings Arms and The Oxenham Arms plus a cafe at The Store, the village’s shop. There are further facilities in the neighbouring villages.
* Plant Heritage defines a National Collection as: “A National Plant Collection entails the stewardship of a well defined set of plants in cultivation that represents part of our national heritage.”