Writings about

the many life lessons

unearthed when we dig

in the dirt . . . and pursue

a range of other interests

in the constantly evolving

garden of life.


Monday, October 22, 2012

A Patch of ThymeMumSedum



 
Here in the time of mums, I appreciate these plants for more than their fall colors; chrysanthemums helped me salvage a design gone bad.

Ten years ago, I fell in love with woolly thyme and planted many plugs in a sizable swath close to the front of the house, a space roughly 8 by 20 feet. Over time the little thyme plants grew together and made a beautiful groundcover, one that encouraged  many of us to walk barefoot in it, enjoying its fragrance and feel.

As soon as it was just right, it did what woolly thyme does: Despite my careful planting in fast-draining soil, it began to die in patches, as it suffered from too much moisture during some of our many hyper-rainy seasons.

Not willing to abandon this open area that’s free of shrubs or trees (I grow no grass), I began mixing in ‘Elfin’ thyme, which tolerates more moisture. But the woolly was dying fast enough that I needed to cover more ground faster.

Sedum, with 'Elfin' thyme



That’s where chrysanthemums came in. Each autumn, I had began adding a few mums, some of which returned the next year. Next came aster, the hardy New England favorite that I began adding two years ago. Last year, the patch got yet another groundcover – sedum, like hens and chicks, below.


Chrysanthemum, with woolly thyme
Now, what started as a woolly thyme patch has become a thyme-mum-aster-sedum patch, an evolution I had not intended but embrace just as much as if I had planned it. 

14 comments:

  1. I love the way an area comes together. This patch talked to you. Told you what it needed and there you have it. A very colorful fall picture. Those little thymes are so sweet. Wooly is very finiky I think. I have a friend that has a smalllll patch that does quite well. I have yet to get it to grow any place except over the edge of a pot. We will see what happens this winter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you love it, Lisa. I'm glad I took the time to listen to the patch. I'm betting your woolly thyme pot will be successful because you'll have no trouble managing excessive moisture.

      Delete
  2. Hey Lee. I haven't ever grown wooly thyme, but it sounds lovely. The most lovely of all is your first photo. The mums are gorgeous with the wooly thyme growing between. What a glorious autumn garden! I enjoyed my little stroll through it. All the best! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heyyy, Beth, thanks for going on the walk with me. I'm delighted you enjoyed what you saw. That scene does shout "autumn!" Cheers!

      Delete
  3. Low growing, delightfully moundy, colorful and spreading --- you have a winning combination with your groundcovers and fall plants. It works.

    Garden design is simply problem solving -- you patch together some solutions, you combine some excess resources and you cover up mistakes. Voila! A garden happens and it is good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Laurrie. I love your analysis; it's spot-on. I'm pleased that I had the stuff growing around and figured out I needed to move it around. I suppose that justifies my excessive planting.

      Delete
  4. Hey Lee,

    Your sedum, mum, thyme patch is beautiful.

    The day I met wooly thyme was very special. It has been the perfect plant for an area where nothing would grow before. It spreads fast, draping over a wall. When I added sedums, which are so colorful and now in full bloom, that little area is even more special.

    Congratulations on 'elfin' doing so well. My luck with it was not so good. Maybe in my drought stricken garden it never got enough water.

    All of gardening is problem solving, is it not?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Preciate that, Barbara. Yes, solving problems adds value and interest to our gardening addiction. And the differences in conditions always interest me; you've had less rain than I have, so your woolly thyme fares better. The reverse is true with the 'Elfin'. Ain't variety grand.

      Delete
  5. Nice, and very creative!
    I have a particular fondness for New England aster, and so do the late pollinators.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you; sometimes a plant's bad turn leads to more interesting design. This year my aster came early and left early.

      Delete
  6. Your first photo is a postcard of autumn colours, a miniature version of what the trees look like, I love it! I always find that it's only once I really like a plant and put it everywhere that I learn about it's fatal flaw :) Is that a footbridge I see in the background of your photo?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tell you, Rosemary, I never tire of autumn in New England (I'm sure I'd feel the same way about your Canada). Indeed, it's a bridge, next to the bloodgrass; building this garden, I needed quick access to the other side of the dry-bed stream.

      Delete
  7. A nice evolution for that swath in front of your house. Lovely photos.

    ReplyDelete

To submit a comment, simply comment as: "name/URL" and fill in your name.
A URL is not required.