Bay Laurel is a dense evergreen shrub or small tree with leathery pointed leaves. Insignificant clusters of small, cream-yellow flowers appear in spring followed by dark purple berries.
Bay Laurel is native to the Mediterranean so is well suited to the hot, dry summers and mild winters of Western Australia. Bay prefer well-drained soil in sun or partial shade and, if established over winter, will grow very well with only two water applications a week in summer.
Bay Laurel is very slow growing and will take many years to reach 15 metres although, if regularly pruned in summer, Bay can be kept to only 2 metres tall. Bay laurel is easily contained in large tubs and because of their dense foliage is perfect for clipping in to topiary or planting as a hedge.
Bay Laurel can be affected by scale, a small insect within a shell that look like raised bumps on the leaves and stem. If the numbers are low, the scale can be easily scraped off. However, if the problem is more extensive, a solution of White Oil applied with a spray bottle every seven days should eradicate the problem.
The leaves of Bay Laurel are an important ingredient in bouquet garni, which simply means “a bunch of herbs”. A classic bouquet garni might include a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, three stalks of parsley and a sprig of marjoram. These would be tied together with string and added to a casserole or stew to impart their flavour and then discarded before the meal is served.
Bay leaves are also known to deter weevils so a leaf included in rice and flour canisters or taped to the inside of a pantry will help deter these insects from the kitchen.
Bay Laurel is one of the most versatile of all herbs and can be included in the garden as a centrepiece, used for a formal entrance to the home or included as a feature patio plant.