This is the first of the month, and Joene encourages us to share garden mistakes, or GOOPs. Check out her blog for more.
I planted Thymus serpyllum 'Alba' on a little raised mound that edged our driveway pavers.
I fell in love with it. It spread quickly, held back the soil from sliding down the little rise, and it turned out to be pretty in bloom.
It was fragrant when I walked on the edges or knelt to tend the plants nearby. The tiny white blooms went on for weeks, and then after it bloomed it stayed dense and green, even into winter.
The natural draping effect over the pavers was exactly the right look.
This worked out perfectly until it didn't.
After the first year or two it started to melt out during the heat of summer, and no amount of patching it could recreate the dense mat.
I fussed with it constantly, adding gravel and replanting divisions, which were easy to dig up and move. But all that tinkering was a lot of work to get a groundcover that looked so bad.
Usually when a plant is not performing, I quickly replace it and try something else. With this patch of thyme, I kept trying and trying for several years, and it kept getting worse.
I did not want to give up on it. In addition to the easy-breezy advice that all I needed was a little gravel in the bare spots and it would recover, I simply loved the look of it when it was healthy.
My mind's eye only saw the pretty, fragrant, thick carpet of thyme, even when reality showed me a brown mess that I couldn't repair. I stuck with it, hoping all would work out when damp summer weather passed, but each year has increasingly proved that Thymus serpyllum in this spot is an oops.
This fall I will dig it all up. It is another one of my unhappy experiments with plants that need sharp drainage and dry soil, like lavender and rosemary and other Mediterranean plants that do not like New England very much, even when I labor to give them the conditions they want.
I need suggestions for a fairly dense and low ground cover that will hold back the rise, keep weeds out and frame the stepping stones by the gate. It is south facing, hot and sunny, and gets bright reflection from the driveway.