Gardening

There are some 350 species of thyme. They share much in common, most being sun-loving, perennial woody subshrubs or creeping woody plants with a neat habit that are high in fragrant essential oils. Garden or common thyme (T. vulgaris) is the principal culinary thyme. The leaves of all forms are tiny, narrow, elliptic, gray-green and aromatic. The tiny white or occasionally lavender flowers are borne terminally in many-layered whorls.

Selected forms include 'Silver Posie,' with soft green and white variegated foliage; 'German Winter,' a very hardy spreading form; 'Provence,' a selected high-quality culinary variety from France; a hybrid called 'Fragrantissimus! or orange thyme, with very fine, erect, thyme- and citrus-scented gray foliage; and 'Erectus,' with strong vertical growth. Caraway or seedcake thyme (Therba-borona) is a wiry carpeting thyme with a delicious caraway scent and lavender flowers. The neat foliage is deep green and the loose flower heads are mauve. Varieties include 'Lemon Caraway' and 'Nutmeg! Conehead thyme (7! capitatus syn. Coridothymuscapitatus) is another very popular cooking thyme. It is an intensely scented, compact spreading subshrub with distinctive terminal conical clusters of deep pink flowers. Spanish thyme (T. mostichina) forms a "eat gray, upright subshrub. The scent is predominantly of common thyme with an element of eucalyptus leaf. This thyme is excellent for barbecues.

'Bush BBQ' thyme is very aromatic, perfect for adding flavor to barbecued meat.

Lemon thyme ( T. x citrodorus) has neat, bushy, fresh green-leafed plants that are redolent of lemon and thyme, making them ideal for fish and chicken dishes. The plants have somewhat sparse heads of lilac flowers. 'Silver Queen,' also known as 'Silver Strike,1 is a white-variegated form, and golden-variegated thyme was the old Elizabethan 'embroidered thyme! 'Lime' is a low-growing fresh green variety with a tangy lime scent. Broad-leafed thyme has broadly elliptical leaves with the true thyme fragrance and interrupted inflorescences with whorls of mauve flowers. Varieties include 'Oregano' or 'Pizza' thyme, which is often listed as T. nummularium; 'Pennsylvania Tea,' with broad leaves and a gentle flavor that's ideal for tisanes; and 'Bertram Anderson' syn. 'Archer's Gold,' with pink flowers and bright golden foliage in summer.

Thymus vulgaris 'Silver Posie' bears pink-purple flowers in late spring to early summer.

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