Sweet Bay (Laurus nobilis), produces the aromatic bay leaves that add flavour to meat dishes and milk puddings, so can be considered another garden crop.
But bay trees are also very popular for giving a cool, urban look to your garden, most often seen as standards, trimmed into pyramids or lollipop shapes and stood in pots or planters on either side of the front door. Lit with pin prick white lights in winter and over the Christmas period bay trees look stunning!
They can, however, be planted in beds and borders and left to grow naturally, but be aware that without pruning they will grow to 2m by 1.5m in 10 years. Ultimately the largest might grow as high 6m (20ft) high, with a spread of 4m (15ft).
When planting a bay tree: whether planting into a bed, border or container, ensure that your tree is set to the same depth as the soil mark on the trunk. Bay trees are hardy, but need a sheltered position as extreme hot or cold conditions and wind scorch can affect the leaves. Bay trees grown in containers might need added winter protection and it is wise to use thick walled pots to keep the frost out of the root ball.
For the elegant look, plant into a container of your choice, using Cleeve Nursery own brand peat reduced and soil based multipurpose compost. During the growing season, liquid feed approximately once a month with a general liquid fertiliser and water your bay tree when conditions are dry. During high temperatures it is advisable to move your containerised bay tree into a slightly shaded spot. During prolonged freezing temperatures it is a good idea to move pot grown bay trees close to a warm wall for protection from the cold.
For bay trees in beds and borders, top dress during the summer period with a general base fertiliser such as Fish Blood and Bone Meal. Bay trees have a very shallow root system, so do take care when weeding around the stem.
Prune your bay tree in spring or early summer.