A GROWING CONCERN: Make thyme for Mediterranean herbs

AS WE MOVE into the very beginning of June, our gardens should be mostly planted and a few new areas may be desired or some new spaces filled in.

Everybody wants that beautiful plant, an absolutely wonderful garden or the perfect landscape, yet I always hear “without a lot of work, expense or real effort.” Dream on, gardeners, dream on!

Well, what if there were a whole category of plants that fulfilled those desired attributes? And what if there was actually a category of plants that performed to those specifications just listed?

Yeah, I know, too good to be true — but true nevertheless.

Let’s begin by first introducing this miracle group of plants, which are the fabulous Mediterranean herbs.

The Peninsula’s Lavender Festival showcases as its namesake star a Mediterranean herb from this fabulous group of plants.

Lavender is beautiful, nicely scented, easy to grow and adores our poor Peninsula soils and dry, dry summers ­— as does oregano, thyme, sage, marjoram and rosemary, which are all Mediterranean herbs.

Look at the fact that Sequim has a huge festival to honor this plant. And why? Because our mild weather, rainfall patterns and soil profiles are ideal for this plant type.

Ideal conditions translate to ease of growing, whereas the lots of work normally required to transform the soil to the desired structure is almost eliminated.

Ideal weather, moisture and temperature requirements for a plant also mean little if there is any stress. Stressed-out plants, I hope I’ve taught you by now, are yellow, weak, diseased, poorly colored and produce poorly.

Not only do Mediterranean herbs flower gorgeously and have blooms that last for an extended period, they are scented with sweet aromas.

They are also herbs.

So cook, dry, spice and potpourri away because the more you trim, snip and prune, the better these plants look, grow and flower.

But if you want to really get easy and beautiful results, then get into the 2,000-plus-member family that is the sedums.

Sedums are super drought tolerant. Many are perfect for the cracks of a rock walkway, gravel path or rockery.

Others are tall (2 to 4 feet) and flower late (October through December), adding their bright colors to, in most cases, an ever-more-barren landscape that is your late-fall-flower display.

Still others have tri- or bi-color foliage. There are varieties that will bloom in every month of the year as well. And the best yet — many sedums are indigenous to both Washington and the Olympic Peninsula, so remember that ideal weather thing we were just talking about? Well, how ideal is the weather if you evolved here in it?

Plant them and they will grow!

OK, so here you have both the Mediterranean herbs and the sedum family, so now for the pièce de résistance: Combine them with a rock scree on landscape cloth.

Rock, gravel and boulders never die. They never need to be watered, pruned, thinned, transplanted, fertilized or staked, nor do they ever get bugs, disease or weather damage. And clean rock and boulders when laid on tough, professional landscape cloth does not need to be weeded either.

So if an easy, naturally suited, all-year blooming, local bug- and disease-resistant, heavenly scented, little-water-required garden and landscape is your wishful thinking, awaken your dream and plant Mediterranean herbs and sedums amongst an artistically placed, multi-sized rock scree, then go start the hobby you always secretly yearn for because now you will have the thyme.

Happy June and stay well all.


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsulanews.us (subject line: Andrew May).

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