Bay (Laurus nobilis), also known as bay laurel or the bay tree, is an evergreen shrub with aromatic leaves, known as bay leaves. Laurus nobilis one of the oldest shrubs in cultivation, introduced to British gardens in from as early as 1650. It’s an essential foliage plant for herb gardens – bay leaves can be used in a variety of dishes, including soups and stews and even ice cream, and are the main ingredient in a ‘bouquet garni’. They can be dried for storing or used fresh.
Bay is slow-growing and, while a plant will eventually become a tree up to 8m tall, it will take many years to do this and can be clipped to keep it at the desired size. Bay trees are traditionally trained and clipped as topiary, and bring a touch of formality to the garden. Laurus nobilis is often sold as a standard lollipop tree or shaped into a cone, or with plaited or spiral stems, and can be used as an alternative to yew or box topiary – especially useful as box is now affected by box tree caterpillar and box blight. Bay grows extremely well in pots and standard plants look particularly good either side of a front door, creating a formal, year-round display.
Bay is a dioecious plant, which means it has male and female flowers on separate plants. Male and female plants are not identified in garden centres, as most gardeners grow them only for their foliage. The flowers are insignificant and the berries are inedible.
Bay laurel is sometimes confused with cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) andPortuguese laurel(Prunus lusitanica). These evergreen shrubs are mostly used as hedging and all parts of the plants are poisonous.How to grow bay (Laurus nobilis)
Bay is slightly tender when young and benefits from shelter and protection in winter. Grow LaurRead more on gardenersworld.com