Thymus ‘Doone Valley’
Of the numerous Thyme available, Thymus ‘Doone Valley’ is one of the prettiest, and it is largely irrelevant that the parentage of this plant is uncertain. Although the leaves are lemon-scented, it is best grown for ornament rather than for any culinary use and, as such, is of value all year long. The mats of olive green leaves are dappled with gold, giving a richly variegated appearance. In late Summer, flower buds on long stems appear above the foliage: at first crimson, the buds open to reveal rounded, lavender flowers. This vigorous, spreading plant is ideal for growing in paving, as an edging to terrace beds, or with other herbs in a stone sink: it is not suited to indoor culture, needing very cool growing conditions. It will thrive in a window-box. In cold weather, each tiny leaf tip turns a terracotta hue, adding yet another quality to this Thyme.
Thymus ‘Doone Valley’ is fully frost-hardy, being able to tolerate temperatures to -5°C (23°F).
This beautiful plant loves the sun and will perform best when grown in good light: plants in small containers may suffer if placed in the direct midday sun in Summer.
Try to keep themoist, but not soggy: during the Winter, water containerized plants thoroughly, then allow the compost to dry before watering again. Thyme tolerates lime in the water.
As an outdoor plant, Thymus ‘Doone Valley’ needs no additional humidity: Thyme is a native of hot and arid regions around the Mediterranean and is tolerant of dry air.
Plants in containers outside should not need feeding for the first year after repotting, as long as a good-quality compost is used. Established plants will benefit from a top-dressing in Spring.
Grow this plant in a light, free-draining compost: choose a loam-based compost and add extra coarse sand – a handful for each 15cm (6in) pot. Thymus ‘Doone Valley’ prefers a light, sandy, so extra horticultural sand should be incorporated into flower beds of heavy soil before planting. Repot containerized plants every Spring if possible.
This ground-covering Thyme is very vigorous, and the centre of the plant may die off after 3-4 years, with the further parts of the plant rooting as it spreads. Rejuvenate the plant by digging it up, removing and replanting the younger parts in fresh compost and discarding the original plant, which will be past its best. To maintain the plant’s bushiness, clip off the flower heads after flowering.
Whitefly like Thyme: as they have a complex life cycle and take four days to reach each of the three stages, control is often difficult. Select a suitable proprietary insecticide and apply as instructed. As Thymus ‘Doone Valley’ is primarily an ornamental herb and not a food plant, it may be worth considering the use of a more persistent insecticide
RECIPES AND REMEDIES
Useful flowers This Thyme has ornamental rather than culinary uses, it is rarely dried, although the pretty flowers are useful in pot pourri when dried. Hang the flower stems upside-down in a dark, well-ventilated place: remove the flower heads from the stems and use as required. The flower heads may also be used like– in bags among clothes. ~