New Cultivar Names

I have been researching Thymus nomenclature since the mid 1990s and work in consultation with the RHS Advisory Committee on Nomenclature and Taxonomy.  Over the years many cultivar names have been changed and the new names published in Plant Heritage, the journal of Plant Heritage, formerly known as NCCPG.  These are now archived on the website.

There are separate sections relating to T. vulgaris cultivars, The Golden Thyme DNA Study, T. 'Culinary Lemon', creeping thyme and the Thymus Coccineus Group.  Included in this section are individual cultivars with major name changes, some of which have resulted from my research undertaken whilst compiling the International Thymus Register and Checklist.

Thymus 'Alan Bloom'

For many years some nurseries were selling a mat forming thyme with creeping stems known as T. serpyllum coccineus 'Minor', but with purple-pink (78C) flowers, rather than the dark crimson 78A of the Coccineus Group.

It would appear that the name arose through a long-standing cataloguing error.  The Blooms of Bressingham trade catalogue of 1954-55 listed T. serpyllum coccineus and T. serpyllum coccineus major, followed by T. serpyllum minor.  These thymes were also listed in the nursery catalogue of 1960-61.  However, the 1961-62 catalogue listed T. serpyllum coccineus and T. serpyllum coccineus major, followed by T. serpyllum coccineus minor.  It was described as having pink flowers and this listing remained in subsequent catalogues.  According to Alan Bloom he had grown this thyme since the 1930s and T. serpyllum minus was listed in the Blooms catalogue of 1939.

As this thyme differs from the T. serpyllum 'Minor'
offered by other nurseries, which has mauve flowers (80C) and hairy leaves, a new name was necessary.  Some thymes have very well defined characteristics and can be readily identified and this is one of them.  The flowers are purple-pink (78C), with an almost translucent appearance, the leaves are small, ovate and pale green and it has a compact creeping habit.  When I spoke to Alan Bloom in late 2003, I suggested that it should be named T. 'Alan Bloom', as the earliest known date of publication was in his catalogue and he was delighted.  The new name was first published in Plant Heritage, Spring 2004.

Thymus 'Alan Bloom'

The great plantsman Alan Bloom died at the grand old age of 98 at the end of March 2005.

T. 'Alan Bloom' first published in Plant Heritage 2004.  Click for original article 

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