Thymes

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John

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Thymes
« on: July 24, 2012, 04:26:06 PM »
Thymus vulgaris was quite a common understory component of the oak woodlands on Montseny, north of Barcelona growing in acid soils. This is the culinary thyme. It reaches about 40 cm high on larger specimens.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2012, 08:25:05 AM by Alisdair »
John
Horticulturist, photographer, author, garden designer and plant breeder; MGS member and RHS committee member. I garden at home in SW London and also at work in South London.

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John

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Re: Thymus
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2012, 04:33:54 PM »
In the foothills of the Appenines to the south of Rome Thymus vulgaris was quite common but this time is in a very open habitat. The view is looking west to the Mediterranean.  
Many of the Thymus vulgaris shrubs here were quite leggy with exposed woody bases.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2012, 09:26:33 AM by John »
John
Horticulturist, photographer, author, garden designer and plant breeder; MGS member and RHS committee member. I garden at home in SW London and also at work in South London.

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Alisdair

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Re: Thymus
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2012, 07:39:13 AM »
The common thyme, Thymus vulgaris, doesn't survive (without being watered in summer) in our hot Greek coastal garden - at least the clones we've tried. The best true thyme species we have found for resisting drought is Thymus mastichina, with Thymus leucotrichus a close second.
The native Thymbra capitata (syn. Thymus capitatus) grows abundantly well, and is the one we use as "thyme" there in cooking.
Can forum members recommend other really drought-hardy thyme species?
« Last Edit: July 25, 2012, 07:41:20 AM by Alisdair »
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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MikeHardman

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Re: Thymus
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2012, 09:21:09 AM »
Alisdair - T. integer looks after itself here in Cyprus.
Meikle (Flora of Cyprus) comments: 'Almost certainly a Cyprus endemic'.

The Plant List gives Thymbra capitata (L.) Cav. as the current name for Thymus capitatus/-a.
Maybe you could include some of the other species of Thymbra in your quest for 'drought-hardy thyme species'?
« Last Edit: July 25, 2012, 09:25:58 AM by MikeHardman »
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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John

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Re: Thymus
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2012, 09:28:36 AM »
Seems like a good thread. Thymes are such important culinary herbs.
John
Horticulturist, photographer, author, garden designer and plant breeder; MGS member and RHS committee member. I garden at home in SW London and also at work in South London.

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Marilyn

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Re: Thymus
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2012, 10:11:35 AM »
My small experience so far agrees with yours, Alisdair:

Thymus vulgaris, T. citriodora and even Thymus hirsutus "Godet", which Olivier Filippi reccomends for a lawn alternative, are seriously struggling in this, their second year, though they receive water by hose once a week, sometimes twice. They looked so fabulous in Spring that I abandoned the idea of putting irrigation in; having been fooled into thinking they were established, I am regretting the decision now and I will probably put drip lines in.

Thymus mastichina and Thymbra capitata are, for me also, perfectly hardy and establish quickly. The Thymbra is particularly impressive: from tiny, thread-like seedlings a few centimetres tall, planted in early Spring this year, we now have healthy, many-branched shrubs around 20-25cm in diameter.

One of the gardens where I used to work was a few kilometres inland and had the heavy, rich red clay soil typical of the foothills here. Amazing stuff that could only be worked during the couple of weeks between heavy rains and complete drought, but the moisture retaining capacity of this soil certainly helped the plants. Here Thymus vulgaris grew without any irrigation as a full and healthy bush to around 50cm high.

I am interested to see what others say on the subject, too; as John says, it is such an important cooking herb and I imagine there must be some excellent droughty-garden-worthy species out there.
I work in hotel and private gardens, promoting sustainable landscape management in the mediterranean climate through the use of diverse, beautiful and appropriate plants. At home, I garden on two balconies containing mostly succulents.

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John J

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Re: Thymus
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2012, 01:15:14 PM »
Mike,
Georgios Hadjikyriakou in his book 'Aromatic and Spicy Plants in Cyprus' has it as a common endemic of Cyprus confined to the ophiolite rocks of the Akamas peninsula and the Troodos mountain range. He also states that even though it is common and is strongly aromatic he has been unable to find reference to any use of the plant. Unlike the indigenous Thymbra capitata (syn; Thymus capitatus, Coridothymus capitatus) and the introduced Thymus vulgaris which are widely used.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

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Alisdair

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Re: Thymus
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2012, 02:18:44 PM »
We did see Thymus integer (thanks for the suggestion, Mike) when we were in Cyprus, and I did forage around the plants for some seeds, but without much hope - it was autumn - and with no success!
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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Marilyn

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Re: Thymus
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2012, 12:24:48 PM »
I remembered about this wonderful site today; here is the page about thymes, apparently all of these are native or endemic to Portugal:

http://www.flora-on.pt/#/1thymus

It's in Portuguese but it is rich in images and there should be enough botanical latin for you to be able to make your way around. :)
I work in hotel and private gardens, promoting sustainable landscape management in the mediterranean climate through the use of diverse, beautiful and appropriate plants. At home, I garden on two balconies containing mostly succulents.

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MikeHardman

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Re: Thymus
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2012, 09:36:59 PM »
I thought I'd show some comparitive photos.
Around here, Thymbra capitata is quite common. We have some wild ones, and some self-sown from those which have had the benefit of gleaned irrigation. The latter form a much denser cushion.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 09:38:42 PM by MikeHardman »
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

pamela

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Thymus piperella
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2013, 05:44:28 PM »
Has anyone grown this lovely herb.  In Spanish its called Pebrella and is used a lot in cooking. Also,  I would love to know what Thyme species people are growing successfully. I have found them quite difficult in a way ...sometimes they are fine but often they die after a few years. 
Jávea, Costa Blanca, Spain
Min temp 5c max temp 38c  Rainfall 550 mm 

"Who passes by sees the leaves;
 Who asks, sees the roots."
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Trevor Australis

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Re: Thymes
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2013, 10:45:47 PM »
We have a selection from Beth Chatto called 'Chaubaudii' which has made a spreading mat underneath an established Syringa x Prestonii. It gets absolutely no irrigation and exists in dry dappled shade. It's been established for 5 years. We also got some of Olivier P's thymes from Lambley last winter but they have all expired this summer. I think the problem was that I did not break up the root balls when I planted them. In Australia all nurseries must use a soil-less potting mix and once put in the soil it is very difficult to wet again after it has dried out. I will try again this winter and take away about 2/3 of the mix before I plant them out. The root system will be much reduced but I hope that will stimulate strong new root growth into my dirt. tn
M Land. Arch., B. Sp. Ed. Teacher, traveller and usually climate compatible.

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John

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Re: Thymes
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2013, 11:47:42 PM »
As I have mentioned I have seen Thymus vulgaris growing in acid condtions but without checking does it grow in alkaline? If so does the provenance affect its ability to grow in either?
John
Horticulturist, photographer, author, garden designer and plant breeder; MGS member and RHS committee member. I garden at home in SW London and also at work in South London.

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Alisdair

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Re: Thymes
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2013, 12:15:49 PM »
John, Thymus vulgaris certainly grows on alkaline soils in France (eg on the Alpilles or the Massif Centrale). Don't know if there is any variation in pH requirement in different populations.
Does the UK common thyme - T. praecox (syn. T. polytrichus) - vary in that way? It's fairly abundant on the chalky South Downs near here.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society