Barbara Celis

Country of origin: Spain
Plant: Thyme

T. vulgaris is a perennial with a woody, fibrous root. The stems are numerous, round, hard, branched, and usually from 4 to 8 inches high, when of the largest growth scarcely attaining a foot in height. The leaves are small, only about 1/8 inch long and 1/16 inch broad, narrow and elliptical, greenish-grey in colour, reflexed at the margins, and set in pairs upon very small foot-stalks. The flowers terminate the branches in whorls. The calyx is tubular, striated, closed at the mouth with small hairs and divided into two lips, the uppermost cut into three teeth and the lower into two. The corolla consists of a tube about the length of the calyx, spreading at the top into two lips of a pale purple colour, the upper lip erect or turned back and notched at the end, the under lip longer and divided into three segments.
Sow about the middle of March or early April, in dry, mild weather, moderately thin, in shallow drills about 1/2 inch deep, and 8 or 9 inches apart, in good, light soil, in a warm position. Cover in evenly with the soil. Some of the plants may remain where planted, after a thinning for early use, others plant out in the summer. Thyme thrives best with lots of room to spread in. It is well to make new beds annually.
Stocks may also be increased by dividing old roots, or making cuttings, by slipping pieces off the plants with roots to them and planting out with trowel or dibber, taking care to water well. This may be done as soon as the weather is warm enough, from May to September. The old clumps may be divided to the utmost extent and provided each portion has a reasonable bit of root attached, success is assured. The perfume of Lemon Thyme is sweeter if raised from cuttings or division of roots, rather than from seed.
Although Thyme grows easily, especially in calcareous light, dry, stony soils, it can be cultivated in heavy soils, but it becomes less aromatic. It dislikes excess of moisture. To form Thyme beds, choose uncultivated ground, with soil too poor to nourish cereals. If Thyme grows upon walls or on dry, stony land, it will survive the severest cold of this country. If the soil does not suit it very well and is close and heavy, some material for lightening it, such as a little road-sand or sweepings, ensuring reasonable porosity, will be welcomed, and should be thoroughly incorporated – in a gritty soil it will root quickly, but it does not like a close, cold soil about its roots.