Steven Gunther

Herbal paths stand up to heavy traffic in a Del Mar garden

Sharon Cohoon,  – September 12, 2005

Creeping thyme isn’t strong enough for rough activities like soccer, but it handles ordinary foot traffic with ease. That’s why Lynne Blackman chose it to line the paths of a seven-circuit classical labyrinth at her Del Mar home.

Lynne and her husband, Vernon, walk the labyrinth regularly, as do friends and family members. Children, who don’t yet appreciate the rewards of a meditative pace, race through it.

Still, the thyme survives. Lynne chose the shortest thyme you can find ― Thymus praecox arcticus ‘Minus’, only ½-inch tall ― for groundcover. (Woolly thyme would also work.)

She planted hers from plug trays, ordered by mail from Richters. A nursery can also order flats of thyme for you.

To create the 45-foot-diameter labyrinth, the Blackmans followed a method described online at Labyrinthos.

The plan can be scaled up or down, since the final labyrinth size depends on the paths’ width; the Blackmans’ paths measure 2½ feet across.

Using powdered lime, the couple drew the pattern on the lawn, then removed the sod, laid out the pattern again, and outlined it with river cobbles.

Until the thyme filled in, Lynne spent more time weeding than walking. “I was doing the circuit on a short stool, pulling out oxalis as I went, wondering if I’d made a mistake.”

Eventually, though, the herb prevailed, she says, and now thyme is on her side.