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Herb of the Week for 12th August 2006

A Moment in Thyme by Lynn Kirkland

Herb of the Week

Just when you think spring's around the corner, the wet weather sets in again. Do not despair as it is the best time to consider where to plant those herbs once spring does come. Look at those areas where the water is lying and if that is where you want to plant herbs then uses this time to raise up the garden.

In general herbs hate wet feet and they love sun. This applies particularly to the Mediterranean herbs - lavender, rosemary, sages and thymes. After all they are used to growing in well drained, stoney ground with the hot Mediterranean sun beating down.

Thymes can be divided into three broad groups. Carpet thymes, culinary thymes and those used for healing.
Carpet thymes are prostrate, that is they hug the ground and don't mind being walked on. These are ideal to plant between pavers and can be used to create a wonderful tapestry carpet effect in front of a seat.
Varieties include, Anne Hall, Coccineus, Goldstream, Purple Robes, Russetings, Snowdrift and Woolly Thyme. If you include a selection of these you will get a lovely variety of textures from the foliage and with the colours when they flower; ranging from, white, pink to purple.
Be aware if you are planning a thyme carpet that when they are in flower they attract lots of bees which may not be good for those with small children or bee allergies.

For cooking purposes I would suggest planting lemon thyme to uses for a delicious lemon zing in cooking. In the photo the attractive foliage is a variegated lemon thyme type which is very robust and will give you lots of delicious snipping and picking through the summer months. Orange thyme is one of my favourite thymes for using in the kitchen. It has grey fine foliage with the most divine orange fragrance in its leaves. Try it on pork, with carrots, fruity scones or muffins or anywhere an orange citrus zest would be good.
For healing, my absolute favourite is a thyme usually sold under the name pizza thyme. Obviously it can be used in the making of pizzas or with any Mediterranean dishes, but it also has the best medicinal constituents which makes it a gem for using a gargle for sore throats or in a bath infusion for aches with the flu and for cough and colds.

So it's time to consider which thymes would suit you needs best and then when you have the well drained sunny spot ready, happy planting.


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