Thyme is On My Side

Woolly and Lemon Thyme line my gravel walkway in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Woolly and Lemon Thyme line my gravel walkway (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Although tiny and often overlooked, thyme is one of the greatest workhorses in the garden, both as an ornamental plant and beneficial herb. Everything about thyme is harmonious; content to be tread upon and live happily on the edge without any care, except an occasional pruning to prevent legginess. Thyme is comfortable existing under the foliage of taller plants, and equally appeased when it can gently tumble over nearby sedum or other willing companions. With sun, well drained soil and a little space, thyme will soon become a beloved garden friend.

Thyme in a vignette with Sage and Evergreen in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Thyme in a vignette with Sage and Evergreen (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

A genus of the mint (Lamiaceae) family, common thyme, Thymus vulgaris, is a powerhouse herb with culinary, medicinal, and ornamental uses. Taking taste cues from its cousin oregano (Origanum), thyme melds refreshing flavor with wholesome minerals and vitamins known to support overall wellness. According to the USDA National Nutrient data base, Thymus vulgaris leaves contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Phosphorus and Manganese, with lower percentages of other vitamins and minerals as well.

Originating from the warm Mediterranean regions, thyme has a long history of beneficial uses; during the Middle Ages sprigs were placed under a pillow to ward off nightmares, the Greeks used it in incense to promote courage and the Egyptians used thyme for embalming, believing it aided in passage to the next life. Interestingly enough, Thymus vulgaris is still considered by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar to be the best herb for stimulating the thymus gland, a major gland of the immune system.

Thyme blossoms are adored by bees in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Thyme blossoms are adored by bees (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Thyme leaf tea has been used to treat anything from nervous disorders to stomach aches and coughs, and is utilized in modern European herbal medicine to treat bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. Along with bee balm friends Monarda didyma and Monarda fistula, Thymus vulgaris contains Thymol, a compound being studied for use as an antiseptic and anti-fungal. A flavonoid component of the thyme leaf, Eriodictyol, is also considered to be a strong antioxidant.

Not only a pretty face in the garden border or along a walkway, thyme offers low maintenance performance (in full sun, zones 5-9) with health benefits to boot. Whether adding some leaves to your tea or tossing some sprigs into your next fish or chicken dish, thyme is a delicious and easy way to introduce nutritious herbs into your lifestyle . . . and garden border ♥

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