Scent under foot and in the perennial border
Creeping thymes enliven the transition from pathways to perennial beds, where they spread into my wide borders. Because they are resilient, I walk on the mats to weed, deadhead, and complete other maintenance tasks. The aromas make my work very pleasant. Under caraway thyme (Thymus herba-barona ‘Minus’ and ‘Longwood’), I plant summer-flowering bulbs like alliums, lilies, and spider lilies, which grow happily without being smothered by the thymes.
Thymes are always at home in rock gardens, walls, and on rocky slopes. Many will meander down crevices, cascade over boulders, or form tight, sculptural mounds. Slopes and inclines in my garden feature ‘Pink Chintz’, ‘Bressingham Seedling’, ‘E.B. Anderson’, and ‘Gold Stream’ thyme. Along north-facing, railroad-tie steps, I grow T. pseudolanuginosus, a woolly thyme with soft, fuzzy, gray foliage. It tolerates the shady conditions, but is far less vigorous than other thymes grown in sunny locations.
Creeping thymes provide fragrance underfoot. Many cultivars are tough enough to withstand occasional foot traffic along garden paths.
Photo/Illustration: John Glover
Woolly thymes prefer dry climates and good air circulation. Their fuzzy, gray foliage makes an attractive carpet creeping over a dark-stained railroad tie.
Photo/Illustration: Delilah Smittle