The Thyme Lawns Update

Thyme Lawns.

You may remember that I wrote about the replanting of the Thyme Lawns in March of this year. I thought I would just give you a quick update on their progress.

Thyme lawns

Although our summer was slow to start, the warm, and presently very dry weather, did finally arrive. Thankfully the thyme is well suited to these conditions and all the plants are growing strongly, spreading to at least triple their original size.  Of the three different forms, the white thyme (also the one with the longest name) T. polytrichus subsp. brittanicus var. albus, is the least vigourous; T. serpyllum and T. serpyllum var. coccineus are roughly the same; perhaps the basic species being very slightly stronger. I suspect that very soon, probably by next summer, all the plants will have met and overlapped, creating a more irregular, interwoven pattern.


It’s worth noting that the bed furthest from the beech hedge is growing slightly better than its sister. This is most likely due to the fact that it gets more sun – the other bed being in the shade of the beech hedge in the mornings.

The thyme which I planted in the marble bowl in the Herb Garden were a few of the poorest plants we had, and yet they’ve grown exceptionally well. They’re planted in a very light mix of sharp grit and potting compost, which is closer to their natural growing medium.


With the benefit of hindsight, I now wonder whether we should have completely dug out and removed the soil from the main beds down to a spits depth and used a similar mix here.

Sadly, I can’t be very positive about the plants I placed in the gaps in between some of the paving slabs. Most of this thyme has not survived the footfall of our visitors – this is of course unavoidable and we were braced for disappointment.

So, thus far the Thyme Lawns are looking promising – but as ever, only time will tell (apologies, couldn’t resist).


21 thoughts on “The Thyme Lawns Update

  1. Hi – it is very beautiful and it will be lovely when the whole area is a carpet. Do you just use regular horticultural grit as a mulch or something a bit bigger? It is difficult to see in the picture what grade it is. Do you use any sort of weed suppressing fabric underneath or will you top it up as it is mixed in with the soil?



    • Hi Sophie. We used the finest grade gravel for the top dressing, and for mixing into the top layer of soil – this allows the thyme to spread and root more easily, as well creating really good drainage. We shouldn’t need to top up the dressing very often because to be honest, we don’t disturb the soil very often – visitors are not encouraged to walk on it either. I wouldn’t recommend using any kind of fabric as this will make it more difficult for the plants to spread as well as hinder effective weed removal – perennial weeds will still establish through the fabric. I’m afraid you’re just going to have to hand weed every now and then! Thanks for your positive comments. Pete


  2. Beautiful already and oh so promising! Thanks for the explanation and great photos. I think a time lawn could work well here in Oklahoma where we traditionally have hot, dry summers—however, for some reason this spring and summer have been extraordinarily wet. I think it’s worth a try. Looking forward to your answers to the previous comment’s questions.


  3. The thyme lawn is looking lovely. Updates are informative and keep us current with what is going on in the garden. Looking forward to ones on the Azalea bank and the pots under the Lindens. Thank you for your blog.


  4. Thank you Pete for your update! I had read your story of the planning and planting of the thyme garden, and visited Sissinghurst at the end of May, and I was wondering how it was faring. I imagined it would do well this year, because I was in London at the beginning of July, and noticed the grass in St James’s Park yellowing, and missing patches, the way you see in poorly tended Italian parks: when there isn’t so much rain you just know you can’t have a “Prato all’inglese”… It will be interesting to see how things evolve…
    I love this blog: Sissinghurst is a place of the heart for me: I’m not a gardener, I’m an enjoyer of gardens, and having read the blog before visiting made such a huge huge difference for me! Thank you for the update and for sharing the lovely story of how you researched and planned the garden. I enjoyed it so much!
    In appreciation of a wonderful team of gardeners good at communicating and generous in sharing
    From Genova, Italy


    • Hi Silvia. Thank you very much for your comments. It is very gratifying to know that our work here is so much appreciated by people from all over the world. I will pass on your kind words to all the gardeners. Pete


  5. Amazing work, it looks already as though the beds are going to fill out with a wonderful mixture of foliage and flower colours. I hope to see its development in future, either on the blog or in person some day. Let’s hope a very wet winter stays away this year!


  6. I really like this Thyme theme, I have a small paved area in my urban garden, which is looking unloved and I want to change it shortly to something greener and one that attracts more wildlife.
    My thoughts have been with chamomile or “mind your own business” (sorry forgotten the Latin.)
    I’d like the to do the thyme as shown but it will get walked on by me and a few others but generally light wear and tear. Do I go ahead with something less delicate or intersperse with some of the varieties suggested in your post?
    It all looks so lovely, many years since I spent a glorious Saturday visiting the gardens.
    Many thanks for any suggestions,
    Carolyn, South Wales


    • Hi Carolyn, it would be really nice to try the thyme idea and if it is only going to get light ‘wear and tear’ it should be fine. As Pete said, good drainage and a sunny location will give it the best chance of thriving and withstanding a few feet. By the way, we have ‘mind your own business’ in the White Garden and it is a nuisance, constantly invading areas where it’s not welcome. Plant with caution! Helen


  7. I’d love to know how the lawn is progressing now (July 2018). I’ like to try it in Breckland, Norfolk, where it is very dry and the soil is sandy over chalk.
    Hope to hear from you,
    Tony Long
    Hawthorn Cottage
    West Harling Road
    East Harling
    Norfolk NR16 2SL


  8. I would love to know how is your lawn looking now? We have clayey soul where we live in Alabama and I would like to know if this would work for us. Thanks


  9. I would like to grow creeping red thyme in my ditch next to the road so I won’t have to mow. Will I need to till up and remove all the grass first? How do I go about this transition?


  10. Three years ago I sowed seed of thymus serpyllum (Breckland thyme) and another variety and after a long delay it germinated. Last Summer it looked beautiful. I would love to send you a photo, but am not sure how to.
    After several months with virtually no rain this year it has died mostly. I’m hoping that it may come back next year.


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