In a well maintained kitchen garden the growing beds are often kept in shape by the paths. Is it the paths that have edges to stop the gravel spilling over or is it the beds that have edges to keep them from spreading on the paths? Whatever it is, I like a good strong edge.
For several years I have battled with wooden edging and used bark chippings for my paths. They haven’t been great. In this damp northern location that I call home, slugs and snails thrive. They have made my timber edges their home for too long, sneaking out at night to rampage through my salad crops and raise my carrot seedlings to the ground. The recycled wooden chippings haven’t helped either, gradually rotting down to a useless mush and losing the fight with the endless weeds that inevitably push through.
I can see the merit, and beauty, of a firmer path be it gravel, brick or hoggin.( Okay I’m never really going to have a hoggin path but it’s such a lovely word I wanted to include it.) These scratchy surfaces make life just a little bit more difficult for the mean little molluscs and, with a bit of luck, they will dry out in the sun or get gobbled up by birds as they venture across my plot. Laid well on a good sub-layer of sand or hardcore a brick path will last for years and years. Leaving gaps in the brick work will provide planting pockets for low growing thyme.
Woolly thyme Thymus pseudolanuginosus is a low growing variety, just 2 cms high. Tiny silvery, grey leaves spread to around 20 cms and is covered in soft, pastel pink flowers for most of the summer.
Thyme ‘Redstart’ is another low growing variety reaching 5 cms in height. Pretty, dark green oval leaves spread to around 20 cms and a profusion of bright red flowers are produced in the summer.
Both these thymes release a delicious, spicy aroma when crushed underfoot. Thymus serpyllum ’Lemon curd’ is another creeping variety that will spread along the cracks of the brick path, bears pinky white flowers in summer and the leaves have a distinctive lemon scent. A fine thyme to get your nose twitching and the bee’s will love them too!
As I am writing this blog there are great thuds and crashing sounds going on above my head. Today the builders are removing the roof tiles of my house and yes, you guessed it! I have already commandeered 500 tiles to become the beautiful path edges I long for. I can’t wait for my walls to be demolished so I can start laying my paths…