Herbs for Pathways
Posted: Apr-30-2004 at 9:19am
hi guys i was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for great herbs to use in the cracks of walkways? i know that thyme and some low growing mints are good ones but i was wondering if there were anymore or if there were specific ones that you would suggest. i am putting in a few paths ways this year and wanted to plant some fragrant walkable plants in the cracks. i am going to use blue star creeper as one even though its not an herb i have it growing in a flower bed and its spreading rapidly. thanks for you help. jenn
Posted: Apr-30-2004 at 11:40am
I like the Elfin thyme the best as its dark green evergreen leaves looks great year round. It stays very low to the ground and it looks fresh and new even in the dead of winter. Plus although it spreads it is not like some that keep going and going.
Posted: Apr-30-2004 at 7:08pm
I love Corsican Mint! Even if it dies back during winter, it will usually have self-seeded to come back. If you like mint, this one is to die for! And, wooley time is another good one.
Posted: May-01-2004 at 7:07am
You can also use creeping rosemary, Rosmarinus prostratus. It has woody stems, and does grow a bit higher than the creeping thyme and mints, so it might be better along the sides, where it can't trip people.
There are also some creeping raspberries (Rubus?). Try native sand strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis). Technically not herbs, though the leaves and berries of raspberry and strawberry have been used in herbal medicine.
Hmmmm . . . let me do some research on this; I know there are more choices than just thyme and mints!
Posted: May-01-2004 at 10:48am
sparklemama, you don't say if this is in sun or shade and how moist the area is. I have found the thymes like it best in sunny, well-drained areas. They do okay for me when planted in some shade but not nearly as well.
In my sunny courtyard, I have interplanted wooly thyme and Cotula squalida (brass buttons might be its common name, not sure about this). The Cotula looks like tiny ferns in greens, grays, bronzes - very lovely with the thyme. It's flowers are tiny brassy-yellow colored rayed flowers - not very significant, IMO. I saw this combo at Savage Plants nursery in Kingston (on Kitshap Pennisula) and fell in love with it.
At some point, an area of lawn in a shady spot is going to fail - the trees are growing and it isn't doing that well now. I considering replacing it with a small courtyard, similar to my front courtyard, and interplanting the stones with dwarf mondo grass, which, from what I hear, will adapt to these conditions just fine. I saw this used in a display garden at a local garden show and really liked the textures of the dark green grassy leaves with the stone.
I am still trying to figure out where to plant some Corsican mint (heavenly fragrance when it is crushed) but I thought that one needed more moisture than the thymes.
One thing to think about is blooms and bees. Personally I don't mind stepping between busy bees on a path but some people wouldn't even consider doing this. If this is going to be a concern, groundcovers that don't bloom, shyly bloom (that's wooly thyme for me) or whose blooms don't draw bees (Cotula squalida) might be better options.
I like the textures of the rubus or the strawberries with stone, Barb! I wouldn't have thought of them. I wonder if they might take a little more training to stay in place instead of covering the stone. Oh, wait, that's no different than the thyme. I regularly have to prune it back so the stones are visible again.
Posted: May-01-2004 at 10:52am
Oops, I meant to suggest sedums for sunny, well-drained areas along the edges of your path. Either of these natives, Sedum oreganum, Sedum spathulifolium, or any of the other low-growing, prostrate forms would work. They will handle some foot traffic but nearly as much as some of the other suggestions. This is another plant that bees really like, btw.
Posted: May-03-2004 at 8:59am
You can also add Irish (Chondrus crispus) and Scotch moss (Sagina subulata) to the shadier stone paths. You do have to trim these back also.
I'll have to try the Cotula squalida (I think it is brass buttons also) in the path. I've got a patch in a shady area but not alot of moisture. It seems to do okay.
Anybody else have problems with weeds cropping up in the ground covers? I find I am pulling up the creepers with the weeds.
Posted: May-03-2004 at 9:16am
Thanks, Jeanne, for mentioning that your Cotula squalida is in shade. I forgot to say that I planted mine in the shadier parts of my courtyard (thyme in the sunny spots) because I'm been told it will fry in hot sun and won't handle the reflected heat of stone or gravel paths very well.
Oh, I curse the durn weeds that pop up in the groundcovers all the time! When I first laid the stone, I simply filled the spaces with 1/4- gravel but the spaces filled with weeds very quickly (Mother Nature abhors a vacuum). So I planted groundcovers in the spaces, hoping it would cut down on weeds. It has, somewhat, but not as much as I'd hoped. So far, using my hands works better than any tool for pulling weeds but leaving the groundcovers behind. I grab the cursed weed with one hand and with the other holding the groundcover in place on either side of the weed, pull the weed out. At times I'm tempted to pull out all the plants and fill the spaces with concrete but I like the green spaces so much I haven't done that yet. I may compromise and fill some spaces with concrete and leave the plants in other spots. I think I'll like the random planting patterns this will create and it will cut down somewhat on weeding in this area.
I'd love to know what others have found successful for dealing with this situation.
Posted: May-04-2004 at 9:39pm
The creeping Thyme seems to be very forgiving to pulling weeds. I use my little, narrow V-notched weed puller--stab it into the Thyme, as close to the weed as I can get, and that seems to do it. If I've lifted a little of the Thyme, I just press it back down. I do invariably get some Thyme leaves with the weeds, but never enough to leave the patch unsightly. The Thyme seems to have survived thus far. I try to get the weeds when they are small, and that seems to minimize damage to the ground covers.
I must say, I do hate weeding the footpath; I'm glad it's not any longer than it is. Those paving stones are hard on my knees, and after weeding the footpath, I am reminded that I am nearly half a century old.
Posted: May-07-2004 at 2:28pm
I love weeding my woolly thyme - because of that intoxicating fragrance!
Lisa, have you tried boiling water on the weeds in your groundcover? If you could get the stream skinny enough to only hit the weed, maybe it would work. I have columbines coming up through my woolly and creeping thyme (I planted them together to make a tapestry). I want them out, but I don't want to kill them. I just want to move them and share them with my neighbor.
Saxifraga is a nice low-growing groundcover - I don't remember the variety.