Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Colors of Thyme

Today was one of those days you dream about at the end of winter. The sun is shining so strongly that your finally wear your sun hat into the garden. The cold sea breeze has finally stopped for a bit. It is warm. Not shorts weather warm, but warm enough that a coat is uncomfortable in the garden. Cool enough that it is pleasant to work in the garden.

My first order of business was to check everything planted the other day. They all seem happy. The spinach has finally started rising from the soil. It just needed a few nights above freezing to start to move. Hopefully in a few days it will all fill in. Green is starting to take over the garden.

But not everything in my garden is green. My chore today was to clean out all the leaves and old foliage from the herb gardens. As the leaves came off I found some beautiful thyme. My French thyme, my culinary favorite, was silver:

My English thyme, which is my most prolific culinary thyme, stayed stalwartly green all winter long under the snow and leaves:

My Creeping thyme (variety unknown), often loses its leaves over the winter, but the parts under the leaves remain green:

My Doone Valley thyme, which is an ornamental lemon scented creeping thyme, is the real beauty of the season. It turns green over the summer but in the cooler seasons it has pretty yellow variegation. After the winter that variegation turns red.

I have one thyme that isn't pictured. I'll save that plant the embarrasment of being shown without her clothes on. Most winters leave her with a patch or two of foliage left, but this winter was a hard winter and she is naked. I hope she grows back. She is the oldest thyme in the garden and she is showing her age. She is a Golden Lemon Thyme. When she was younger she had pretty golden edged leaves. She has lost her variegation over time and now she is just a simple green. She still smells wonderful though and in some years I pick enough to dry for the winter as she keeps her lemon scent very well. Some sites list this thyme as being hardy only to zone 7, but she has faithfully lived for 17 years in my zone 6 garden. I hope she survived our brutal winter.


  1. How beautiful! I love thyme. We have 4 types in a pot and 2 definitely survived the winter--not sure about the other 2. My favorite is the orange scented thyme. But I think they are all beautiful and smell wonderful.

  2. Wow! You are a thyme person Daphne! I am not lucky with thyme. Got it once and lost it. Your post enspires me to give it another try!
    Thank you!

  3. You have a nice variety of Thymes in your garden Daphne. I hope to add more this year.

  4. Nice thyme's. I think my favorite thyme is that wooly creeping thyme, not sure if it is edible though. Our climate kills herbs all the time. Our snow melts in the middle of winter, then we get a deep freeze and it kills them dead. I am thinking of growing all the herbs in pots this year and then place them in the shed for the worst of the winter.

  5. Great post! I grow a lot of different thymes too, love the silver, golden lemon (mine doesn't look great either - wonder if they tend to be less hardy in bad winters), and others I always forget the names of. I just clipped some for a sauce tonight! It looked like it never went through anything resembling snow and ice for weeks on end. I'll have to see if I can find that reddish one of yours, it's a beaut!

  6. Those are lovely thyme. All are beautiful. And I hope the naked one will survive and grow, too! Maybe you could post the picture then.

  7. Hi Daphne, we love thyme here too, especially the Doone Valley variety with its color changing ways. It does get sort of straggly at the end of winter. Hope your golden lemon grows some new outfits. Would a pruning help?

  8. Curmudgeon, orange scented thyme sounds divine. I'll have to keep my eye out for that one.

    Tatyana, yup I love my thyme. I love the scents. I love the little bushes they make and I love that they attract the bees when in flower.

    Perennialgardener, I always hope to add more too. I never have enough.

    Dan, oh that is so sad. I've had my thymes die too well except the lemon one. I'm hoping it still lived. I think mine die sometimes because it is too wet here for them. My creeping thyme dies in patches but then creeps back and fills in over the years. It is slowly taking over the herb garden.

    Karen, I think it must be a deciduous thyme. All the others seem to be evergreens.

    Blossom, I'm sure it will get time over the summer as long as it puts its clothes back on.

    Frances, that was my addition from last year. When I got it I didn't realize that it wasn't a culinary thyme :< but it sure is pretty. I have pruned back some of the golden lemon thyme. I'll do a farther prune when I figure out what is still alive and what it really dead. It is hard to tell with just looking.