I’ve been growing thyme (Thymus spp.) for about as long as I’ve been gardening and I over that time I have tried every variety you can think of and in a multitude of widely varying growing conditions. From raised beds to hard, clay soil, and from big planter boxes to the tiniest pots, I have put this plant through its paces to see what it will withstand. I have grown it out in the blazing sun and tucked it underneath the shade of rose bushes. I have crammed it into tight spots between rocks, and pampered it with rich, nutritious compost.
I have never had thyme as full, bushy, and glorious as I do in this garden.
Over the years, the creeping/trailing varieties have been generally happy regardless of where I put them, but the bushing types that produce thick, woody stems, often died over the winter if the weather was particularly wet or there was a lot of heaving caused by a seesaw of extremes between freezing and thawing, freezing and thawing. And when they didn’t die, they never quite came back with the vigour that they once had. They languished through the growing season and gave in entirely sometime through the next winter.
But the plants I have been growing here are gorgeous. They are not as big as some of the monstrous thyme bushes I have seen growing in the West Indies, but they are living up to their potential in ways I didn’t think I would ever be able to achieve here. It’s all down to the soil, which is sandy and very free draining. The plants are better able to withstand the winter temperature because the roots are not sitting in excess moisture. For that reason I have planted all of my thyme directly into the ground here (rather than into the raised beds) and have only lightly amended the soil around them with duck manure.
There is lots more about growing and cooking with thyme in my book, “Easy Growing: Organic Herbs and Edible Flowers from Small Spaces“