Saving Thyme

Carla Allen
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Each spring, while potting the hundreds of perennials we used to sell at our nursery, I used to look forward to one group in particular.

Creeping thyme fills the nooks and crannies of this flagstone approach.
Carla Allen photo

We carried many different types of creeping thymes including mother-of-thyme, pink chintz, lemon, white and woolly thyme. Potting them involved kneeling on each closely knit bed and cutting them into 2” x 2” squares, much like a pan of brownies, lifting each section out and snugging it into a 4” pot of soil. Within a few weeks it would grow to the edge of the pot and cascade over.

Well-tended thyme is a beauty to behold and I look forward to the day when I build the thyme bench planned for my sunny back patio.

When the weeds move in however, you’ve got your work cut out for you. A flagstone entrance at the front of my property has all kinds of creeping thyme that needs attention.

When it’s looking fine, visitors sometimes ask, "How do you keep all of the weeds out of your thyme?”

There's no magic to it. So many people are looking for easy solutions these days... a spray or treatment that kills weeds but won't kill desirable plants.

Normally it just takes a couple of hours each season weeding by hand to keep an area looking great.

Thyme is aptly named and a commendable member of the garden kingdom. In addition to the carpet-like leaves, you have a royal sprinkling of tiny mauve flowers in June or July.

It’s a plant that insists you spend time weeding, rediscovering a pastime that allows you quiet hours with your thoughts. You're rewarded by a heady fragrance as your fingers pluck and remove unwanted settlers. When the job is done you can look back over your task and receive instant gratification, running your hand over the nubbly weed free carpet. 

If you have the problem, as I do, of moss trying to gain a foothold in your thyme, pick what you can out, then sprinkle a mixture of sand and lime in its place and either water with compost kelp or manure tea. 

A thyme-related memory I love to relive is of a trip to Connemara, Ireland in 2010 where I stayed with a couchsurfing host who owned three donkeys.

I loved sitting beside them in the field as they trod about in the wild thyme and heather.

Geographic location: Connemara, Ireland

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