Woolly thyme and other creeping things

Whilst I am custodian of the edible perennials my partner quite rightly craves flowers in the garden.  In the spring we took up a patch of sloping difficult-to-mow lawn and used the upturned turf to create a new polyculture patch.  The ex-lawn area is in the process of becoming a flower bed.  I have sown herb and flower seeds so it is becoming an odd mix of flat leafed parsley, dill, love in a mist, calendula with some bought herbs and flowers – various thymes, sage, savory, pansies, day lilies, roses (transferred from the other garden).  Flower bed or no, it is being cultivated, if that is the word, along the same lines as the vegetable parts of the garden.  That is to say:

No digging

This is self explanatory; and impossible anyway as this bed, like the rest of the main part of the garden, is very hard clay with lots of stones very firmly embedded.  I am trusting to time and in due course lots of mulching on the surface to change this.

Allowing anything rather than nothing to grow ……

that is until something more useful comes along.  Therefore when the bed was new and bare there were quite a few “weeds” that germinated.  I left them in place whilst the scattered seeds began to grow and then gradually removed them when the adjacent flower plants were a reasonable size.

Why do this?  Because some of the microscopic life forms that will eventually thrive in this hard and barren soil need living beings (plants) to feed them via the exudates from their roots.  They don’t mind what the plant above ground is as long as its roots are alive.

Observing what happens over time

This is how I learn things.  What I have seen today is various plants racing to cover the soil.  At the bottom of this photograph there is the very pretty tiny leafed woolly thyme.  Now it has established it is trying very hard to spread in all directions.  To the right there is a deep burgundy coloured bugle taken from another flower bed and on the left a white clover.  The clover just appeared in the bed, but may have come from the lawn that was removed.  I will watch and wait to see which plant overcomes the others first and then choose what to do.  But perhaps the main lesson is that nature does not like bare soil and has plants eminently suited to making sure it doesn’t stay that way for long.

DSCN6533 woolly thyme


DSCN6540 flower bed


DSCN6532 flower bed


About Anni Kelsey

I love forest gardens and forest gardening, nature, reading and everything good about being alive. I have written two books - the garden of equal delights (2020) - about the principles and practice of forest gardening; and Edible Perennial Gardening (2014) - about growing perennial vegetables in polycultures, which is basically forest gardening concentrating on the lower layers.
This entry was posted in Borderland Garden, Relationship with nature and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Woolly thyme and other creeping things

  1. wspines says:

    I have used the Ruth Stout no dig method for over 20 years. It works in the worst clay soil and provided me with wonderful flowers and veggies. The mulch I used was sheep manure mixed with hay and shavings. Your gardens are lovely, and I just love the wooly thyme. I have never been able to winter it over any suggestions>


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