WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on May 18th, 2009

Chapel Street Garden

May 18

Two plants are making a statement in this garden. I’m afraid the Woolly Thyme is a bit louder than the Speedwell and is grabbing all the attention of the passerbys that drive by. Those walking have a bit more time and get a chance to focus on both but you and I both can guess what is catching their eye first.

Chapel Street Garden

Woolly Thyme – Thymus pseudolanuginosus

Planted last year in the cracks between rocks this creepy little thyme has started to cover the rock. By the end of this season it should finish the job and become the green ‘water’ falls I invisioned. That is except when in bloom, during show time I don’t care what it appears to look like. The carpet of color will make it’s own statement.

Woolly Thyme in bloom

Woolly Thyme is a tiny plant and only grows about a 1/4 inch high. I love using it to cover rock in sunny dry areas where moss is out of the question. The flowers are tiny too but it’s habit of forming a carpet of blooms is one more reason that makes this a very impressive addition to the garden.

Woolly Thyme Flowers

I can’t help but to get in just a bit closer for a better look. I prefer to call this plant by it’s common name. When I try to say pseudolanuginosus people think I’m swearing.

Woolly Thyme flower

Speedwell – Veronica chamaedrys

This low growing Veronica is a pretty plant with it’s blue flowers. It’s also pretty aggressive. Give it sun and well drained soil and it will take off for parts unknown. I once had a patch that must have covered 600 square feet. No kidding, the patch had to be at least 20 x 30 without exaggeration. Do I really have to say it makes a great ground cover in sunny dry areas?

Speedwell ground cover

The flowers are small but numerous enough to give the area where the plants are growing a blue haze. They are all to fleeting though.

Veronica chamaedrys flowers

I’m very pleased with the way this garden is turning out. Planted last year it has had a chance to become established and I’m looking forward to the progression of blooms. But I’m not done yet. The poor home owner hasn’t seen me come back from the perennial nursery yet this year. I say poor because I don’t think dropping a couple hundred bucks at a time in the garden is any big deal as long as the money comes from their tree.

I just love spending their kid’s inheritance so I can play in the dirt.

18 Responses

  1. Tatyana Says:

    Hi WiseAcre! I like these images, lovely! Sunny dry areas… This is what I have under big fur trees with dense roots. Should I try to plant Speedwell there? Happy playing!

    Worth a try. I’ve never used the Speedwell under trees but it has grown for me in places bone dry (southern facing sandy hillside).

    I think a Thyme would do well. I’ll have to get a pic of ‘Doone Valley’. You might like that – it’s a Mother of Thyme with smaller yellow variegated leaves. Only thing is it’s just 2 inch high.

  2. Helen Says:

    Dry areas, without sun. Any suggestions?

    Pray for rain?
    Dry shady spots are tough. I have Lily of the Valley and Vinca minor in some dry shady areas but it’s tough to get them established and spread. Takes a couple seasons of watering but once established they hold their own. Same with hosta, they’ll just sit there without water but once they get to size they are OK.

    If the shade is produced by pine trees then all bets are off. Even Mother Nature has a problem there.

  3. Randy Says:

    Really beautiful Woolly Thyme, never heard of it before. We planted Mother of Thyme two years ago it spread like crazy, this year it looks pretty bad with all the dead old growth.

    I have the same problem with creeping phlox. One year great – the next a rat’s nest.

  4. Ratty Says:

    That’s a good color to cover the rocks. I think the rocks by themselves already look good, but as long as the plants let them keep their shape, I think it looks good.

    That’s another nice thing about this thyme – they fit like a glove. While I love rock – I think the best way to display it is to partially hide it 🙂

  5. bughunter99 Says:

    What a great looking bed. What are the almost black plants to the left in the first photo?

    Those are Geranium pratense ‘Hocus Pocus’. It’s the first time I’ve used them and they’ve wintered well and are coming on strong 🙂

  6. Heather Says:

    What a pretty vignette you have there. I love the thyme. Your rock hounding has paid off in spades. Very nice!

    Actually my rock collecting has paid off in hearts. The way to a woman’s heart is through her garden 🙂

  7. ryan Says:

    Great looking woolly thyme. I like how it flows over the rock. I think it’s pretty much the single best plant for combining with rock, it’s covered many little flaws in my work for me.

  8. ryan Says:

    It’s covered some big flaws, too.

  9. Monica the Garden Faerie Says:

    I absolutely adore thyme, creeping and otherwise. I have wooly thyme and mother of thyme along my path out back; it doesn’t get enough sun so doesn’t always bloom in all sections, but is still wonderful all around. Hadn’t realized there was a prostrate (ha ha) Veronica. I like Veronica chamaedrys, and apparently there’s a white one native to Michigan. My eye went to the pink flowing river of wooly thyme first and then to the red door! 🙂

  10. cindee Says:

    I also have wooley thyme. I love it and it grows everywhere in my garden. It does require watering here in the heat. I have planted elfin thyme too and it is really cute. Again requires watering to keep it alive here(-: If I didn’t water it it would expire. I have not tried a speedwell but it looks beautiful! I might have to give it a try.
    Your garden looks beautiful!(-:

  11. rainfield Says:

    Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
    Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
    Remember me to one who lives there
    She once was a true love of mine.

    This was when I learnt about thyme. And hopefully there will be Parsley, sage and rosemary coming up. LOL….

    I’ve warned others about poetry and singing on my blog. It could get pretty bad if i joined in.

  12. betchai Says:

    wow, you have a wonderful garden, i love the purple on rocks and those blue hues. the carpet is flowers seem like carpet of wildflowers to me, so lovely.

    People let me play in their yards. That is one of my gardens in someone else’s yard.

  13. Liisa Says:

    What a lovely carpet of color. I have a couple spots I would like to try the woolly thyme. The Veronica and Geranium are lovely, as well. I just love the dark leaves of ‘Hocus Pocus’. Hmmm… after seeing your post I think I may be making yet another trip to the nursery. 🙂

    Don’t you just love going to a blog and seeing something you have to have? Then when you get to the nursery there are 5 more thing that follow you home.

    The Hocus Pocus did very very well – I was afraid that exposed wind swept spot might have been to harsh for it in the winter.

  14. jodi (bloomingwriter) Says:

    Love the woolly thyme, though it doesn’t really love me (it’s a bit too wet here for its liking). The veronica, on the other hand, IS heading for parts unknown…but it’s great at killing off weeds, so I don’t mind its ambitiousness.

    I have the same problem, my yard is a swamp hole and there’s very limited space where I can use such a small thyme. My dry spots are taken up by Sedums.

  15. Garden Lily Says:

    I am thinking of woolly thyme as a filler for a flagstone pathway I am planning. But my experience with other thymes is that the flowers attract bees in droves. Usually, that is exactly what I’m hoping for, but not for a pathway… Does woolly thyme attract many bees when in flower?

    Garden Lily,
    Bees do visit but it’s not like they swarm over the blooms. I wouldn’t be concerned about bees if I used them in a path. I know of a couple spots by paths and sitting areas planted with Thyme and bees don’t really come to mind when I think of those plantings.

  16. Margaret Says:

    Hi! You did a lovely job on that garden, and I am hoping that you might have an answer for me that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else.

    I am very new to gardening and tend to make decisions that sometimes work wonderfully and sometimes, unfortunately, do not. Last year my husband and I created a great courtyard space at our vacation home, which included a random flagstone patio under a tall, mature ponderosa pine. I planted the cracks in the flagstone with several varieties of low creeping thyme, and around the base of the tree I planted speedwell thyme.

    The plantings did great throughout last summer and spread very nicely, but while the various thymes in the cracks are coming back green this spring, the speedwell looks like one of those sisal welcome mats – completely brown and dead.

    Does speedwell take longer to start its spring growth – or is it likely to be a lost cause? The garden is in the mountains of Colorado, but is in the ‘banana belt’ of the Arkansas river valley – in the town of Salida. The winter wasn’t too harsh this year, and daytime temps are mainly in the 40s-50s now, with jumps into the 70s.

    I’d really appreciate any insight you might have – I haven’t been able to find anything about speedwell’s return in the spring online, and I am very much hoping to save it.


  17. meg Says:

    Hello Wiseacre
    Nice landscaping images . Everything blends in your garden.
    I just finished laying flagstones on my 4′ side yard(raised by retaining walls) next to the driveway.
    We live in Winnipeg,Canada. I wanted to plant Thymus Pseudolanuginosus(I read your blog- me too I like to go with this name,a tongue twister for my 4 yera old daughter.). Being in Winnipeg I’ve very limited options to grow moss inbetween my flag stones.
    Woolly thyme (zone2) -when is the best time to plant?Can I do it now in September or wait till the spring?I’ve flagstone area about 350 sq.ft. Is it enough to buy about 150sq.ft? any rule of thumb/
    Which is the best way to buy it economical?Do you know anybody who can ship them?
    Thanks in advance?
    Do you have any suggestions on other moss that will survive in zone 3a.I went to BC this summer and fell in love with Corscican mint. Will it survive in zone 3?

  18. BonezTheGoon Says:

    Looks like someone might be using your image, I don’t know if you gave them permission or not . . .


    . . . also if you say this picture is of “thymus pseudolanuginosus” the product that is being sold using your picture is actually “thymus serpyllum” seeds.

    Just thought you should know!