A group of mostly hardy subshrubs and herbaceous plants, natives of northern temperate regions, and most abundant in the Mediterranean region. In the Alps they are found at as great an elevation as 6,000 and 7,000 ft. Thymus belongs to the Mint family, Labiateae. The name Thymus is the old Greek name used by Theophrastus for this plant or some closely allied sort.
The Thymes are delightful and most useful plants in the garden. For the rock and the wall garden they give us several enchanting, minute, flowering shrubs; the creeping kinds form the basis of the alpine lawn (which see), and they are also invaluable for planting in the crevices of paved paths.
The common Thyme, T. vulgaris, is a bushy plant with lavender-colored flowers. It should be in every herb garden so that it may be used fresh, as required, for flavoring in cooking. Bunches should be gathered and hung to dry in an airy place for winter use.
Thymus membranaceus, from Spain, is a dwarf, neat bush, 6-9 in. high, with heads of pure white flowers. It is an ornamental plant for a sunny position in light, well-drained soil in the rock garden. It is hardy, and may be in creased by cuttings rooted in sand in a cold frame in early summer.
Creeping Thyme or Mother-of-Thyme. Thymus Serpyllum is the Creeping Thyme of Europe, Asia and northern Africa and is naturalized in North America. It is a fragrant, creeping plant with small, dark green leaves and, in June, heads of mauve or heather-purple flowers. The wild type is one of the most charming and useful of all rock-garden plants, clothing any sunny slope with a close evergreen carpet. It is one of the best of all ground covers for choice bulbs, is neat and brilliant when used in
The crevices of paved walks, and it forms thees sential groundwork of the alpine lawn (which see). It may be raised from seeds sown in a pan of sandy loam in a cold frame in spring; cut tings can be rooted in sand in a cold frame in early summer, or it may be increased by division of the roots at almost any time of year.
There are several distinct and beautiful varieties, all of which are increased by cuttings or division in the same way as the type, but they cannot be relied upon to come true from seeds. The best varieties are: albus, with white flow ers, a most valuable acquisition; Annie Hall, flesh-pink; aureus, of which the leaves are green during summer, but in autumn turn a brilliant gold color, and so remain all the winter; coccineus, a magnificent plant, with dark green foliage and crimson flowers; and coccineus superbus, having larger fiower heads of the same splendid color, is larger in leaf, somewhat looser inhabit, and does not creep so widely nor in such a definitely prostrate manner as others.
A Silvery-Gray Thyme. T . Serpyll um variety pseudolanuginosus (probably the correct name of the plant grown in gardens under the name of T . lanuginosus) is a most distinct and attractive kind, with leaves densely clothed in silky gray hairs which give the whole plant a silvery-gray appearance. It does not flower very freely and the flowers are a pale, somewhat insignificant lilac color, but it is an extremely attractive carpeter and first-rate for the alpine lawn and as ground cover for choice bulbs. It will form beautiful silver-gray cushions if planted at the top of a dry wall, where it can hang down freely and without restraint.
T . Serpyllum minus is a valuable dwarf form, in effect an exact counterpart of the common Creeping Thyme, but only half the size of the latter. It is particularly valuable for small al pine lawns where little space is available.
The Lemon Thyme, Thymus Serpyllum variety vulgaris, is often misnamed T. citriodorus. A native of the Mediterranean region; it is a dwarf, sub shrubby plant, 6-9 in . tall, the leaves of which smell of lemon. T here are several varieties in cultivation. The plant known in gardens as T . citriodorus aureus, with golden-colored leaves, make s a neat edging, and clump s of it are attractive in the rock garden. It should be planted in rather light , poor soil and a sunny position to maintain its golden color. In too rich soil it tends to revert to green. It is in creased by division in spring, or by cuttings of small twigs inserted in a pan of sand in a cold frame.
Silver-leaved Lemon Thyme. T. Serpyllum vulgaris argenteus has small leaves margined with silver. It is a pretty plant for the rock or the wall garden, and makes a good edging. It is easily increased by small branches, removed in early summer and inserted in sandy soil in the cold frame.
The Seedcake Thyme. Thymus Herbabarona, the Seedcake Thyme, is a prostrate creeping plant, not unlike T. Serpyllum in habit and general appearance, though the leaves are rather larger, thicker, and more fleshy. The flowers, borne in heads, are pale lilac in color . The plant Is distinguished by its strong aroma of caraway, to which it owes its name Seedcake Thyme .
Thymus Herbabarona is a native of the mountains of Corsica, where it was collected on the Vizzatona Pass in 1909, and introduced to cul tiva tors in England. It is an attractive plant for the rock garden, dry wall garden, and for the crevices of paved paths. It is pro pagated by divi sion of the roots, or small shoots may be rooted as cuttings in sand in the cold frame in early summer.
Two Other Good Thymes. T . pectinatus, some times called T. odoratissim us, is a low kind, notable for its very fragrant foliage. Its lavender or pale purple flowers are borne in distinct heads or clusters. T. hirsutus is a low, spreading plant which has hairy grayish foliage and erect flower ing stems with heads of lavender or lavender pink flowers. Both T. pectinatus and T. odora tissimus are good rock-garden plants.
Beautiful Bush Thymes. Thymus nitidus is perhaps the most beautiful of all the bush Thymes. It forms a small twiggy shrub about 18 in. high, clothed with small gray-green leaves, and is covered in June and July with small rosy lilac flowers.
This delightful plant is probably closely related to the Mediterranean T. vulgaris, but is altogether superior, and invaluable in the rock garden where it should be given a fully sunny position, in the dry wall garden and in the front of the flower border. The foliage has the same aromatic smell as T. vulgaris.
This plant may be increased from seed sown in a pan of light loam and sand in the cold frame in spring, or from cuttings of small branches taken in early summer and inserted in a pan of sand in the cold frame. This kind is not very hardy in the North.
Thymus caesp1t1tms (micans) makes neat rounded bushes about 6 in. high, of close heath like foliage. It is a shrubby plant, and most at tractive in a sunny position in the rock garden, where its evergreen domes of slightly golden green, aromatic foliage give a very good effect. It is also useful for the dry wall garden. The flowers are pale lilac, almost white, but are of no account in comparison with the character istic habit of the plant. It is increased most easily by division, and cuttings may be rooted in the ordinary way. It is a native of Spain, Portugal, the Azores and Madeira and is not very hardy in the North.
Thymus carnosus is an attractive small bush or shrub of erect growth, 12-18 in. high. The rigid stems are thickly clothed with dark green, heathlike leaves, and in summer it bears clusters of small white flowers. The whole plant is pleas antly aromatic. This Thyme is most valuable in the rock garden, not so much for the sake of its flowers, but because of the striking character of its rigid growth, suggesting a clump of minute Irish Yew. It is increased by cuttings taken in summer.