A Walk in Thyme
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Mary Vandenhoff
Posted on: February 8, 1999

For our millennium project, the McDonalds Corners/Elphin Arts and Recreation association is constructing a labyrinth behind our old schoolhouse. The total area will be approximately 60 feet in diameter to contain 7 circuits of pathways.

The "walls" of the pathways will be willows (which will be cut each spring by our basket-weavers) and we would like to make the pathways of thyme - hence "a walk in thyme"

Do you believe that this would be practical? The pathways will be 4 feet wide. During the late summer and early fall, the pathways will be shaded for large parts of the day as the willows grow. Also we could get a fair amount of traffic over the pathways, depending how popular the labyrinth becomes. It will be open at all times to the public and we will organize some events around the labyrinth. We have purposely planned the path to be 4 feet wide to leave 3 feet for passage of a wheelchair if necessary. Would mother of thyme grow and survive under these conditions? We do understand that during the first year there must be no/no treading on our thyme to give it, and the willows, time to establish.

From your catalogue we notice perhaps lemon or minus thyme might be more hardy for the pathway. With the cumulative distance of our pathway being almost a kilometer, the cost of planting it in those varieties appears prohibitive for our organization.

Since thyme is a high light plant, you will have trouble keeping the mat thick enough not to suffer a lot from heavy traffic. The cheapest would be wild thyme, becuse it is available in seed. But creeping thyme(mother of thyme) would give the tightest and flattest surface and would do so quite fast. However, no seed is available for it.

Lemon and Minus thyme do not grow nearly as fast as creeping thyme.

I would suggest that you prune your walls more freqently and perhaps leave only the north wall and maybe east and west walls of the exterior to grow for your basket weavers. That way the thyme would get better light.

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