I splurged with a knockout rose and two hardy hibiscus, but I decided that the rest of the perennials I put in will have to be something that will naturalize here and require minimum watering. I am a firm believer in lots of mulch...not gravel. Gravel gets too hot in the courtyard and I want something that will break down and enrich this very sandy, slightly alkaline soil. So I use lots of compost and bark mulch.
One of the plants recommended for this environment is catmint. I went to a local nursery because they have the best selection of plants that will do well here. The big box stores aren't always reliable on that count. I decided on the Six Hills Giant Catmint, one for each side of my lilac. $8 for a gallon size-not too bad. I have read that it is a sterile hybrid, which means no seeds. I'm disappointed about that, but not enough to change my mind about planting it.
I got them planted this morning. I trimmed off the flowers to reduce the stress--blooming while being transplanted can be a little too much for some plants. I will probably keep the buds pinched off for the remainder of this summer so it's energy will go to roots. I added about an inch of mushroom compost and dug it in good before planting. I had composted the entire bed before mulching, so added just a little extra as I planted. They were root bound, so I loosened up the roots with my fingers before planting them. Now it is just wait and see how they do.