Growing Thyme in your Garden – Learn common types

growing thyme in your garden

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.

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