English Thyme

In Southern Herb Growing, by Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay, thymes are described as falling into three broad groups: upright subshrubs 12 to 18 inches tall, creeping herbs up to 6 inches, and very flat creepers only 1 to 2 inches tall. The culinary thymes are in the upright subshrub category, and nearly all are cultivars of common thyme, T. vulgaris. Thus, English Thyme, which may also be called Common Thyme or Garden Thyme, or a special cultivar called Broadleaf English are all very closely related.

With close to 400 varieties of thyme identified thus far, it must be noted that these little herbs are indeed notorious cross-pollinators, just like the mints, so new hybrids appear every year.

The English Thyme, however, is a favorite of cooks, along with narrow-leaf French, lemon, and winter thymes. Thymes in general like well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine, as well as great air circulation. The upright varieties are quite woody and can form considerable mounds in a few years. Light, regular pruning will keep the mound healthy — severe pruning in an effort to overcome woody stems almost always kills the plant entirely.

Thyme is one of the basic seasonings throughout the world’s cuisines. While its leaves are small, they have a strong flavor, and should be used sparingly.