Cooling Down with Creeping Thyme
As I sit here this morning contemplating a run to the grocery store before the next wave of arctic air hits, I turn my attention to thoughts that allow me to emerge permanently from my winter cave…swimming pools. Yes, I am using every ounce of my imagination to conjure thoughts of heat, sunshine, sparkling water, and green! Before I moved to South Carolina, I lived in Texas. I was lucky enough to have designed and built a fabulous house on some acreage outside of Austin. If you are unaware of the water situation in Texas, there is an on-going drought of what seems like Biblical proportions! The drought had just begun when the house was being built, so no landscaping was planned until better conditions developed. And in keeping with good landscaping practices, I decided to use as little impervious cover as possible so that any drops that did fall from the sky would sink in instead of run off! That included the decking around the pool.
The pool was designed to look like a natural swimming hole. I did not want it to look like a hotel pool had fallen out of the sky, so in working with a really great pool builder, we decided to use large stones along the back edge that were immersed in the water. Stones were also used for the coping and the decking. Keeping in mind the desire for less impervious cover, I had the joints between the decking stones filled with decomposed granite. It was not super attractive, but it fit the need for the time being. That is, until the skies started opening again and rain became a regular event.
Time passed and rain did not become a regular event, but I was getting tired of the harsh look of the pool decking. I was also contemplating my move by then and decided it was time to add some green. The desired look was something like this with Creeping Thyme filling the joints.
But first I had to dig out the decomposed granite between stones…not a job I recommend for an enjoyable afternoon…or two…or three.
I planted a dwarf variety of Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllium) that looks like this:
It is a wonderfully hardy little plant that takes the heat and foot traffic. As with all plants, watering is required until the plant is established regardless of how drought tolerant it is. And an added benefit of planting between stones or pavers is the heat absorption. Plants naturally cool an area down.
It spreads nicely and had really started to fill in the joints by the time I moved. So on this day when the temperature outside is steadily dropping, I am conjuring up visions of lounging poolside!