In This Section
Thyme leaf & flower
Thymus vulgaris and other species (Labiatae)
Habitat and appearance: There are so many fragrant thymes to choose from: the cultivated form of the wild thyme from Europe, our British wild thyme (thymus serpyllum, which is not native to anywhere else), lemon thyme and so on. It is an aromatic sub-shrub which has woody stems and, although a perennial, can dwindle in vitality after 3 to 5 years of growth. It reaches 10-30cm, and has numerous stems, which branch out. The leaves are tiny and linear-elliptic, grey-green in colour, and set in pairs. The flowers terminate the branches in whorls of dense or sparse inflorescences, and are lillac-blue to white. They flower from May to August and the bees just love them!
Garden suitability: Propagation can be achieved by cuttings, root division or seed, but the easiest method is to prise away a piece of the plant which is attached to some root (peaty soil makes this easier), i.e. an ‘Irishman’s cutting’. Easy to propagate, it can be grown almost anywhere (even in very cold climates as an annual) and should definitely adorn your own garden, especially as it is one of the first herbs to flower in the season, attracting bees and butterflies. It enjoys almost uncultivated ground and grows on or near dry walls or stony land, becoming very hardy. Lighten heavy soil with grit.