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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Wheel of Thyme

When we last left E-Bed 2 there was not much left in it. That was necessary so a new idea would have room to bloom. For years I harbored an idea while I watched for a wheel that I could acquire to be the basis of my new design. I wanted to create a "Wheel of Thyme", and surround it with plants that move and bloom at different times of day and night.

I found a pair of large iron wheels on Craig's List this summer, and struck a bargain with the seller. All the while I was wondering what I could do with the second wheel.

We spent all one Saturday collecting them. First we discovered they were too large to fit anywhere in my large car. OK, find granddaughter and ask if we can borrow her pickup truck. She was at work as a swimming pool lifeguard, and couldn't leave her post. We drove across town, waited until a friend could find the keys, swapped keys, left the car, took her truck, had fast food lunch, drove to storage unit again, seller helped load the wheels, drove to the house, unloaded, and as a thank you gift... filled truck's HUGE gas tank for granddaughter, then drove back across town to the pool, and swapped vehicles again. The day was shot, but I had my wheels!

I knew I wanted one flat on the ground where it could be planted with different types of thyme. The other one... hmmmm... I knew I would need a vertical something to grow morning glories on. Would this second wheel work? How would we make it stand alone? The damaged section of the wheel was buried, then re-bars were cut to fit and driven deep into the soil. I hope it will remain standing when it is full of foliage and a strong wind blows. If you want to see the metal bars, just enlarge the photo by clicking on it.

So far it is still standing. I had some puny morning glory plants I had started from seed that were still in their pots (poor things); they were set in with the wheel. I thought they might die, but they are still living and blooming on the wheel. They latched on right away and started growing on it. (Notice daylilies behind wheel.)

It was late August which meant that my growing season was winding down, but I was able to find plenty of thyme. We were leaving the labels there for a little while until I learned to recognize their faces. We planted:
woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus) which is easy to recognize because it is fuzzy;

culinary thyme (Thymus vulgaris) which is tallest and thinnest so far;

and, Mother-0f-Thyme elfin (Thymus serphyllum)

I was not sure how they were using the name "elfin", so I looked it up and found it means "small and delicate", which is suitable for this tiny leaved, flat growing plant. I wonder why they call it "mother of thyme". Could it have been the species plant from which cultivated varieties were started. There are so many things I wonder about.

These are some of my wonderful helpers from the university here in town. Their fields of interests are: sports (track), animal science, and merchandising. None are studying anything about plants, but these are young people who want a chance to get out of doors and be partners with nature. We gardeners understand that, don't we.

When it came to preparing the actual wheel of thyme I wanted to try to duplicate the way we built the little raised bed for tiny plants. I do not have a true trough garden, so this was an improvisation.

We mixed coarse sand, compost, a little soil, and limestone that had been crushed to small pieces. After plants were set in, they were mulched with more of the crushed limestone.

The "trough" bed was successful almost to a fault, therefore we did the same mix for the Wheel of Thyme. When I planted an ornamental thyme in the raised bed, two years later it was taking over and choking out the precious little fame flower that had been doing so well.

Click and enlarge to see the beleaguered fame flowers.

Fame Flower is a native plant.
(Believed to be: Phemeranthus calycinus)

After that part was completed the rest of the whole bed was mulched with a good dark mulch.

Visible in the photos are some
Portulaca plants that had been barely hanging onto life in pots in the potting area.

The next stage of the project was, and still is, to fill the rest of the bed with flowers that move and bloom at different times of day and night. The
Portulacas do not open until noon. Morning glories are open in the early morning.

Some daylilies were not moved to the new bed halfway down the hill. They are behind the vertical wheel. They open about noon. (I think.)

Four o'clocks were planted among them. (white, yellow, and pink) I had started them from seed, and they were so, so glad to get out of those pots - remember it was August.

It is later now and the morning glory has filled out happily and is pretty each morning. Sorry, this pic is later in the day so no blooms here.

A sundial has been added that shows Father Time, and the first part of Browning's sweet verse:
“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, 'A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!'”

Nowadays the thyme looks like this and already needs weeding. Tomorrow the labels will be removed.

We have room for more plants to be planted come spring.

I have been making a list of plants that could be included. So far this is the list:
morning glories (morning)
4o'clocks (afternoon)
daylilies (noon approximately - as far as I can tell)
moon flower (night)
passion flower vine (night?)
evening primrose (at dusk with the fireflies)
Night-blooming Cereus
angel's trumpet (night?)
fame flower (afternoon)
Jewels of Ophir (afternoon)
Portulacas (noon?)
chicory (night? early morning? too weedy?)

If I made an error in my list, or if you can add to the list, please leave a comment with your suggestions. I would love to learn more.


Meadowview Thymes said...

Barbee--I love, love, LOVE the wheel of thyme! And you have such good sun for your plants! Hope you will take pictures of these often and post. (of course, guess it will be after winter! I keep forgetting it's not summer anymore!) :)

Sunita said...

Barbee what a great project! I loved your step-by-step list of things you did, etc. I feel so inspired to go out and start on some projects of my own right now.

Gunilla said...

Fantastic I get so inspired.
A wheel I must get a wheel. It´s so decorative to plant into.
Thyme I have got some of them.
But no wheel.I really like that.

Have a great day


GardenJoy4Me said...

Barbee girl .. I almost wished I didn't see this post .. you have made me so darn jealous girl ! LOL
This is a wonderful idea .. if I had the room .. I would have to beg your forgiveness and copy what you have done here .. I have just a small section of one of my sun beds to dedicate to herbs .. but this idea with the wheels .. PERFECT !! and I love thyme : ) .. did you add lemon thyme ? it would be a great scent to catch with the rest .. I too have Mother of thyme and a few others .. this is a wonderful project girl !!
Joy : )

our friend Ben said...

I was just thinking about an herb wheel the other day, Barbee'! (Probably because I'm trying to create a Native American medicine wheel in the backyard.) Yours is awesome, and I love the idea of the morning glory wheel! Like Joy, I'd suggest adding lemon thyme, and the variegated gold and silver thymes since they're so lovely. Can't wait to see it next year!

Rosey Pollen said...

Genius idea! This is going into the "someday I might do this" project book. Thanks

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

I love that wheel of thyme.

It certainly is a great design idea. I am looking forward to seeing it again next summer.


Barbee' said...

Meadowview Thymes, I am sooooo glad you like it! It was a fun project. Will try to follow up on it next summer.

Sunita, I am very glad you liked the idea and project undertaking. I could not have done it without help.

Gunilla, it took me years to find a wheel. I hope you have quicker luck. I was about to make one with stones if I didn't find one soon. The stones might have been better anyway. Glad you like the idea. Herb wheels have been around since gardening began, I suspect.

Joy, Ha, ha, I'm sure other people have done it before me. No lemon thyme, yet. I just worked with what I could find in the stores at that time. A great big Thank You!

Ben, You know what they say about great minds thinking alike. A medicine wheel sounds intriguing. Thank you for sharing your ideas and suggestions.

Rosey, Well, thank you, and you are welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

Jen, I'm glad you like it. We will see what next summer brings.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Barbee, what a wonderful idea. I just love it.
By the way about your header picture... I thought it was my garden near the woods. I have a regular plant stake garden growing after planting so many lilies and labeling them until they bloom next summer or maybe to identify the ones the deers like most to munch on. ;-)

Barbee' said...

Hocking Hills G., thank you for the positive feedback. Nope, it's my place and I do get tired of stakes, labels, and flags, but as you know, they are absolutely necessary in some places. Good luck with your lilies and labels. I have trouble with squirrels and chipmunks pulling mine out and moving them around. I guess the wind helps once the critters pull them out. I hope the deer detour around your place, but if you have trees they are probably watching every move you make.

farmlady said...

Oh my gosh! This is beautiful. A Wheel of Thyme and the Morning Glory are wonderful ideas. You have inspired me. I will be looking for a big wheel and all that fragrant Thyme.
Thanks you for a beautiful post.

Barbee' said...

farmlady, I am so glad you enjoyed it! I guess that was my major project for this summer; that and the new bed for the daylilies that we took out of this bed. Not sure how I will manage a Moonflower vine; I read they can grow to 40 feet. I guess it will have to go up in the crab apple tree at the end of the bed, but that would be a lot of shade for the vine. I found this good link about growing them. Moonflower Vine

Sammy Thorley said...

http://sammythorleyphotography.blogspot.com/ You must see this photography blog of mine i loved yours

JGH said...

What a cool project, Barbee! I'm trying to think of ideas for theme gardens for kids to do in our school courtyard and I really think they'd like this. Maybe having a couple be responsible for a different section or "spoke" ? Thanks for the inspiration!

Barbee' said...

Sammy, thank you for stopping by. I went to your blog and enjoyed a browse about. Left a message for you. I think you are developing a good eye for your work. Keep it up.

JGH, thank you very much! Good luck with your project. Let us know how it goes.

Balisha said...

How's your knee, Barbee? Just checking on you. Balisha ((HUGS))

Sammy Thorley said...

Hay I did get your comment on my blog & thank-you for all the links you left me they did work I found all there blogs great so thanks.

Sammy Thorley said...

Hay I forgot to ask why don't you follow my blog as I haven;t got any yet.

Barbee' said...

Balisha, I started doing stairs the usual way and it set me back a bit, guess I rushed that. Still favoring it today, but it is better. Thank you.

Sammy, glad the links worked, and will do.

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

Fantastic I do love it all! Great work.


Barbee' said...

Hello Tyra, I am glad you like it all. It's gradually getting there. Next summer should be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Your wheel of thyme is an inspired idea! Can't wait to mark it's progress with you.

Barbee' said...

Thank you, Ms. Robin, I will do an update next summer.

joey said...

Love it, love it, Barbee! A thyme/herb lover, you've created a unique garden (I have the same sundial!)

Barbee' said...

Hi Joey, yes, I noticed several posts ago that you do. Your post was so pretty the way you put color overlay over the plain sundial. I thought of it, and you, when I took my plain photo. I found mine on the Internet and ordered it from there. I am glad you enjoyed my post and the ideas I am trying to put together. Thank you.

donna said...

The vertical wheel and the morning glories appear to be a match made in heaven. Barbee, you are a very interesting blogger. Luv to visit here.

Esther Montgomery said...

The scale of your projects, Barbee, is phenominal. And the intricate planning which goes into so many of them!

I can't get thyme to grow in my present garden. I've tried and failed with several kinds and have given up.

Do hope the vertical wheel survives storms.

Oodles of admiration crossing the Atlantic (and lots of land too!)


Barbee' said...

Hello Donna, Thank you, and thank you, again! Your new header photo is beautiful, I just sat for a bit and looked at it. I enjoyed your recent post about leaves, and some very pretty examples.

Oh, there you are, Esther! I enjoyed your comment so much. I feel as though we have had a friendly little chat. Now, the truth is, sometimes I bite off more than I can chew, as the old saying goes. I'm always coming up with ideas that I nowadays cannot possibly install myself. I get ideas, then point and instruct others what to do and how to do it. Even so, sometimes I forgot something... this summer I forgot to have them place the burlap fabric on the new daylily bed under the mulch to hold the sloping surface soil in place. Maybe we can retro fit... maybe.

Hmmm, I wonder about that thyme problem in your garden. I'm wondering, because I use so much limestone, and it grows so well with it, if your soil is too acidic - or maybe too damp? These plants have sharp drainage. I had to do that because we have a lot of rain. It surely has done well in that "trough-like" little bed.

I hope the vertical wheel survives storms, too, because I have run out of ideas of what to do if it doesn't. I didn't want it set into cement, because I think that would cause a galvanic reaction between the two that would eat up the metal. There is so much about such things that I do not know. I do know that when we moved into this house the seller had covered the drip-pans under the burners of the electrical range with aluminum foil. When I started to replace it with clean, new foil, I discovered the metal drip-pans had turned to ashes! and there was very little there other than aluminum foil.

Oh, so that was the oodles of sweet breezes wafting across land and sea! You are more than generous! Thank you.

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Barbee' said...

Trucking Factoring Companies, what a kind comment you have left. I appreciate it greatly. Thank you.