A Garden for All: Grow your own Thyme.
February 6, 2009.
Bedding plants are a critical part of the garden. They are the plants that make up the under story, or they can even be the main highlights of a garden. They are the plants that we can change, divide, and swap out on a whim. They can add instant color and, they can also change the style and character of a garden quickly, and easily.
In my world of miniature gardening, bedding plants are really groundcovers. These are what I depend upon year-round, to do the job of the under story in my tiny gardens. So, it’s time to touch on my faves, and one trooper-of-a-plant that I use a lot of is Thyme.
Firstly, the groundcover Thyme is not the same Thyme we put in our food. (So, don’t be lookin’ at your mini garden for your next spice for the soup, k?) That’s the herb that grows into a small bush 10” high and about 14” wide, it’s the groundcover version that’s a great choice for mini gardens, and low maintenance too.
Groundcover thyme (Thymus) can creeps along the ground, or trail it down the side of a pot or ledge. It has the most darling little leaves that suit all scales of miniature gardens. It comes in a variety of colors to suit almost any situation, and it flowers in summer too – the colors of the flowers depend on the variety.
Thyme is drought tolerant when it’s established – and I really mean it. I’ve had a patch up by the sidewalk, going into a miniature garden, and it gets scorched there in the summer – all day long. It also gets walked on constantly, and occasionally abused with the odd snowfall and ice too. There’s a little maintenance with Thyme, as it likes being divided every couple of years to avoid that browning in the center.
Here are a few of the more popular Thymes that work great here in the northwest:
– Red Thyme (Thymus serpyllum ‘Coccineus’) has lovely dark green leaves on a reddy stem, with pink flowers.
– Wooley Thyme (Thymus lanuginosus) has gray-green leaves with teeny-tiny hairs (thus the wooley part), with light purple-pink flowers.
– White Thyme (Thymus serpyllum ‘Alba’) has medium green leaves with lighter green stems and white flowers.
– Pink Chintz Thyme, (Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’) medium green leaves with green stems, pink flowers.
– Elfin Thyme, (Thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin’) a darker richer green that grows slowly into a tight, tiny mat.
And there are more varieties with different leaf colors too.
And, the best part is that, as mini gardeners, Thyme can make a really neat tiny hedge. Think of formal gardens with a hedge that lines a pathway, and separates the mini garden from the rest of the garden. Or, maybe a miniature knot garden for your miniature garden. In other words, there is lots of Thyme play with.