Best Of Thymes, Worst Of Thymes...


As a beginning gardener I thought one of the Thymes at least would make a good low-water ground cover.

Wrong! I believe, after growing and killing quite a few of these beautiful and aromatic little plants, that they like cooler conditions than that which my garden provides. One reads about Thyme lawns...well, they are probably wonderful in the UK, or close along the Pacific coast. Get a few miles inland, and you get brown crispy patches in your beautiful Thyme. Go a few miles farther inland, and you get brown and crispy everywhere, unless you are watering it so much it might as well be Fescue.

Not that Thymes don't recover, more or less, for the winter and spring, looking so beautiful you vow that with a little extra care and water, they'll look beautiful in summer and fall as well. Dream on.

Some however have proven better than others, and perhaps afternoon shade is a solution I need to explore.

Mother-of-Thyme, Thymus serpyllum, does pretty well. Not fantastic, but recovers quickly from the brown crispies, and I love the low-low-lowness of it. The same for Thymus lanuginosus, which I like for its ability to avoid blooming. No deadheading required.

Wooly or Creeping, looking good this cool summer:

Thymus citriodorus 'Doone Valley' is bewitching. It's gorgeous every time I see it for sale, and so I succumb. Every time it fools me. It looks beautiful for winter and spring, but summer leads to extreme ugliness and death, and it requires deadheading if it manages to survive. Love-Hate.

'Doone Valley', misleading, and left un-deadheaded to hide the brown crispies:

This plant I found for sale labeled as "Lemon Thyme" has been excellent so far, thick-growing and easily surviving what summer heat we had this year without showing a bit of brown. In addition, it has a wonderful and yes, lemony fragrance. Still, I'm wary. I've been fooled before.

Won't get fooled again (okay, probably will...) "Lemon Thyme"


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