Thyme (thymus vulgaris)

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, 
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows, 
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, 
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.
Midsummer Night's Dream
The common thyme. Strong, fresh scent, beautiful, small leaves and the resilience of something much bigger and tougher. This ancient herb has been used by many nations throughout the world since antiquity, respected for its antiseptic and preservative qualities that could be profited of by cooks, medics and even embalmers. Even nowadays, many throat remedies are still made of thyme, coltsfoot  and marsh mallow, despite all the progress in pharmacology.

Thyme is an easy herb to keep, even in a pot on your windowsill. It likes sunny spots best, but will actually make do anywhere, as long as there's some direct light. It does not need a lot of water - indeed, too much of it can hurt the plant - and will struggle along even if You forget about it for a week, which makes it a good start for beginner herbalists. Even dried up and brown, the plant will regain almost all of its strength when taken care of.
If You want to have some fresh thyme at home, the best way to go about it is to buy a live plant. Thyme is very difficult to raise from seeds and is usually propagated by cuttings, even by professionals. If You bought a plant and want to put it in a pot, remember that thyme is a survivor ; it has evolved to withstand harsh conditions and those are the ones that suit it best. The most important thing here is to keep the soil well-drained. But don't worry : just take the intended pot and fill the bottom with a 3 to 4 cm layer of stones (gravel or sea pebbles, anything small) and the rest with soil. This will make Your plant feel right at home.
Thyme can also be used to great effects in gardens, as it really is rather decorative, very resilient and can take severe cold well. An interesting fact is that ants like to make nests among thyme roots, and gardeners have successfully drawn ants away from an undesirable spot by planting thyme bushes somewhere else.
  • Culinary uses
Because of the strong aroma, thyme herb is a great seasoning for all those dishes that need an extra zing. Meats of all kinds can benefit greatly from being marinated in olive oil and thyme (and will keep longer).  It's a great ingredient for all kinds of salads and casseroles where the taste would otherwise be too bland. The only problem is that the leaves are very small, and if You have a live plant, You'll have to pick quite a lot of them and it becomes tedious after a while. But that's hardly a real disadvantage.
  • Medicinal uses
Thyme is most commonly used as an antiseptic, due to high concentration of essential oils. Most common use for it are throat infections, which can be treated with infusions, thyme oil (it's hard to make as it has to be distilled twice, so at home best stick to infusions) or some more complicated recipes I will not dwell on right now. It is also used to stimulate the digestive system and can raise blood pressure, although not enough to be any danger to patients suffering from hypertension. Usually. Of course, ultra-high concentration of thyme oil should be avoided by them, but then again, it's not likely to come across that sort of dose anyway.
  • Magic uses
In magic, thyme can be used to great effect. Due to the strong and persistent nature of the plant, it can be used in charms  to grant courage and resilience. The potent, healthy aroma invigorates the spirit and clears thought similarly to lavender, but with more emphasis on action - for this reason, it's a great protective herb because it shields You while not letting You stagnate. Thyme can also be used to ward off nightmares, be it the fresh herb, the dried herb used in a witch bag, or incense. It is definitely worth to keep this small, but noble bush at home.