Time for Thyme

Thyme was when I recall there being only one thyme – a strange straggly low growing herb, satisfying in the rapidity of its spread and awkward to add to dishes because it involves plucking miniscule leaves off fiddly, difficult to grasp stems.

Move on a few years and suddenly there is a whole world of thyme – well nearly (over 100 species)  my recent discoveries being Lemon thyme (T. x citriodorus ) and orange-scented thyme (T x citriodorus ‘Fragrantissimus’).

Lemon thyme has the thyme flavour but with lemony overtones – brilliant with chicken. Orange scented thyme can be used in desserts and this summer I’m looking forward to trying it as a garnish with summer fruit drinks and fruit salads.

orange-scented thyme (T x citriodorus ‘Fragrantissimus’).

Even if your culinary habits don’t include the use of herbs, growing aromatic thyme is an on-going delight for the senses – a walk around a garden where the visual interest has become too familiar is always lifted by the excitement of a forgotten aroma – and thyme provides this in abundance.

Thyme enjoys a hot sunny position, and is essentially a Mediterranean herb – wet soil will not help – but if you are inclined to believe the summers here are getting warmer, then Mediterranean herbs could be a satisfying planting choice. In the garden, thyme needs little faffing about with, and some gentle cutting back in the Spring or Autumn will prevent it becoming woody and looking as though it needs a hair-cut.

For anyone inclined to low maintenance gardening, Thyme can fill a blank spot growing well between paving flags where it can add movement and colour interest (flower colours vary from purple to white) and of course, as mentioned, wonderful aroma.

It is an evergreen and so provides some structure and interest in the garden the whole year through – any visual help in the long English winters must be a bonus.





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