Of all the herbs in my garden, thyme has to be my favourite. I just love its versatility in the garden and in the kitchen.
For me, the must-have is Pizza Thyme with its glossy deep green leaves and burgundy blush. It has the most aromatic perfume that really does smell like a pizza so I love to use it in almost all Italian dishes, especially in tomato sauces. But, this is a herb that I think is just as valuable in landscaping as it makes a fantastic ground cover when mass planted and its colours offset other shrubs beautifully. I always have a few plants near the entrance to my front door so that visitors get a whiff of something delicious.
Lemon thyme is another underrated herb. It also has beautiful little leaves that reflect the sunlight and can easily be planted anywhere in the garden. And whilst it is amazing when used with fish and chicken, it is also terrific as a herbal tea; the thymol in the leaves is an antiseptic that helps to soothe the throat. Just let it steep in hot water for 3 to 5 minutes and add a touch of honey if you prefer your tea a bit sweeter.
Lastly there’s the common thyme with its small, grey-green leaves. It is packed with flavour and tough as old boots. Don’t forget that its flowers can also be scattered over savoury dishes as a garnish though the plant has better flavour when it’s not flowering.
The rule with thyme is to treat it mean. Don’t feed or water it too much and give it plenty of sun. A thyme plant that gets too spoilt won’t get the chance to develop the oil in its leaves which gives it the flavour that we want in cooking. Finally, if it gets leggy, cut it down by around a half and then cover the base of it with compost or potting mix. This will help to rejuvenate it so that it will last for many years.
Happy herb gardening!