The Thyme

Thymus, commonly known as thyme, is o­ne of the most versatile and useful of garden herbs. This perennial plant is aromatic, visually appealing, and can thrive in a wide range of gardening zones. With foliage than ranges from dark, glossy green to wooly gray, there is a thyme for nearly every garden style and color scheme.

The possibilities when designing with thyme are practically endless, but the plants do prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Thyme is well suited for all garden styles. It can be trimmed severely for formality, and is frequently called into service in stylized knot-work gardens; but it also looks just as lovely when allowed to run free and sprawl down garden walls or paths in a cottage garden.

Some types of creeping thyme, particularly “Mother-of-Thyme”, are used between paving stones in walkways and patios due to their durability underfoot. Because thyme is rich in essential oil, the foliage offers up its fragrance when lightly trod upon. Vigorously-growing creeping varieties make interesting groundcovers for areas that do not get a lot of foot traffic. Elfin thyme, a mini creeper, is beautiful in hypertufa planters and makes a nice groundcover for miniature gardens.

Thymus Vulgaris
Thymus Vulgaris
In bush form, thyme is a great companion for lavender and roses, and can be planted around vegetables to deter some types of harmful insects. Bush types are usually more aromatic then their creeping cousins.
Thyme has been widely used throughout history for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Thyme is very antiseptic. A chilled decoction of thyme makes an effective gargle for sore throats and has been used as a remedy for whooping cough.

Lemon thyme (thymus citriodorus) is a common variety used for culinary purposes; as the name suggests, it both smells and tastes like lemon. It is easy to grow indoors and is ideal for window gardens.