And the Plant Geek Hall of Fame Nominee is. . .

Origanum rotundifolum 'Kent Beauty'During the spring planting season, I work several Sundays at a locally owned garden center.

“Why?” you may ask.  “Is it because of the generous salary structure with stock options and 401(k) match?”  Nope.

“Is it because of the unique opportunities for recognition and advancement?”  Nope.

“Is it because you’re gaga over Max, the nursery’s resident cat?”  Well, that’s partly it.  But mostly it’s because, deep in the bowels of my very being, I am a plant geek.  And I like working with my fellow plant geeks–Cheryl, Sue and Amanda.

What do plant geeks discuss on the job?  Their favorite plants.  If one member of the perennials department raves about a particular plant, her co-workers snap it right up.  After all, nursery folk are surrounded by hundreds of plants day in and day out.  So if a plant is outstanding enough to merit special mention to fellow geeks, it has to be good.

One such plant is this year’s Plant Geek Hall of Fame Nominee: Origanum rotundifolium ‘Kent Beauty’, AKA Kent’s Beauty oregano.

In late June, this ornamental oregano begins growing delicate mauve bracts that have an ethereal quality.  Tiny purple flowers, tucked inside the bracts, add to the charm of this garden glamour-puss whose trailing stems extend one to two feet.  The plant’s blooms are about twice the diameter of your run-of-the-mill ornamental oreganos.

Although rated as a USDA Zone 6 plant (Denver is Zone 5), Denver geeks have been growing this looker successfully as a groundcover for several seasons.  Because Kent Beauty has a draping effect, you can use it to soften a retaining wall by planting it at the top edge of the wall so its bracts cascade down the front.  You can also grow it in rock gardens and containers for stunning effect.

I just planted two Kent Beauties this spring—one in the ground and one in a container.  The container plant has more blooms and is growing faster than the groundcover, probably because I water the container plant more often.

According to www.provenwinners.com, the plant should be cut back to the ground in late fall.

So if you’re looking for a showy summer bloomer, consider Kent’s Beauty oregano.  But don’t use it in a high-traffic area; it’s sensitive to feet.

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