Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, thyme has a well established reputation for providing healing and protection; it also symbolizes courage, bravery, and strength. For centuries, soldiers would wear or carry sprigs of thyme with them to battle with the belief that the herb would protect them from danger. For culinary use, it is most often paired with lamb, poultry, or lemon; thyme makes one of the finest flavors of honey, and the plant attracts many bees. Medieval herbalists treated poisonous stings or bites with this herb, or burned it to purify the air. During the time of the Black Death, thyme became a major ingredient in many treatments for the disease. Whether or not it actually performed a cure, recent research confirms that thyme contains a very powerful antiseptic that may have medical benefits; records show several instances of thyme syrup completely curing whooping cough within a week. Though culinary use is fine, pregnant women should not take medicinal doses of thyme. Start thyme indoors 5-6 weeks before the last frost, sowing them 1/4" deep in a flat. Keep them out of direct sunlight, but make sure the soil temperature is at least 70 degrees F. Germination may take up to 28 days. Well after the last frost, transplant the seedlings 9-12" apart in sandy soil and full sun. Direct sowing is possible but not recommended, since the seeds take much longer to germinate in the cool soil of spring; this significantly shortens the growing season and delays the harvest of fresh leaves. Thyme also grows well as a container plant, and can be propogated from cuttings or root division. As a companion plant, thyme attracts bees and discourages harmful insects such as the cabbage butterfly. Also known as Common Thyme, Garden Thyme. Perennial. 85 days. Zone 5-9. 12-18" height. 9-12" spacing. Produces a short shrub with small, grayish green leaves and clusters of pink or purple flowers.