Yes, I am in love with Laurel!

I don’t know why but this conjures up a leggy, orthodontically gleaming, Californian girl roller blading along the beach front at Santa Monica.

But this is a gardening blog. So calm down Robert. I mean Laurel the shrub!

The other day, when it felt just too hot to garden, I went out onto the shady streetside and pruned the Laurels which are rough ovoids interspersed with tall, pine trunks. Here, a year’s growth is about a foot and it is a simple methodical job which is useful, but quiet and repetively soothing. Like making risotto!

Yes, quiet because I use secateurs. Laurels are large leaved and mechanical hedgerimmers, while quick, result in cut leaves.

This is a good time to prune Laurels because the cut surfaces dry quickly. Laurel is a Cherry relative and is therefore best pruned now to avoid SilverLeaf, a disease which enters the plant through cut surfaces which stay wet for a long time. Summer is best.

So weather and plant and gardener were completely in tune!

Several thoughts occurred to me.

Rowsham House which we visited earlier this year, where Laurels were extensively used historically as a landscape tool.

My grandfather who used Laurel to screen the utilities of his house: wood store, apple store and shed.

And the hot water I got into with some last year, when suggesting that Laurels made sense in urban landscapes rather than the spreading, shaggy ‘prairie-ize-ation’ of  Bristol’s roundabouts and public spaces.

I pointed out just how sharp Laurels can look:

And how cool:

I was told that they were gloomy.

Well we are each entitled to our view, but gloomy?

Here are the Laurels at Rousham: 

A whole sea of them glistens away into the wood. Magic, I say!

Gardens need a change of pace and atmosphere and light and shade just like gardeners.

Imagine moving from this:

to this:


And so low labour you’d have most of the year off, because I am not suggesting  you embark on creating this awe inspiring, billowing sea of Laurels!

While they are at home in relaxed, rural and historic gardens they can also look smart, urban and chic.

Here, Fernando Caruncho, one of the garden designers Lesley and I most respect, shows how it is done:

And I expect a hedgetrimmer is used!

Me? I am just plain old fashioned!