Saturday, July 7, 2012

Caraway Thyme, Thymus herba-barona

TV garden presenter Graham Ross of Better Homes and Gardens has been giving an impressive behind the scenes look at some of the grand gardens of Europe lately including the other week, Hampton Court Palace in England. It was interesting to see the workings of the place during the time of Henry VIII and the view of the kitchen with the giant open style ovens and the slabs of meat ready for roasting. Caraway thyme was one the herbs of choice in those days and derived its botanical name from the "barons of beef' on which it was used for flavouring.
I have a metre square ground space dedicated to it in my community garden plot as I like crushing the leaves which are warmly aromatic and reminiscent of lemon mixed with caraway, reminding me in fact more of freshly baked rye bread rather than beef. It has not flowered for me and I wonder whether it needs a colder climate to do this. It is also difficult to pick a bunch of it as it stays fairly flat on the ground but stems which hang over the edge of the garden bed are easy to pick off before they send down roots. I keep a seedling tray of it growing at the nursery in that section of my plants which are not very commercial. I think it may look too nondescript in a pot for sale. That said, it is a very hardy plant and not fussy as to soil or watering and worth growing for the scent even if it may look somewhat like a moth eaten carpet from time to time when patches of it die off.

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