Here am I, still beating the drum for Laurels.

But this time a different species from the Cherry Laurel or Prunus laurocerasus.

The drum I am banging this time is for the Portuguese Laurel or Prunus lusitanica.

Yes, I like Cherry Laurel, but I like Portuguese Laurel even more.

Its foliage is darker, neater and more lustrous and the leaves have an attractive red petiole.

Small details can make plants.


In fact this Portuguese Laurel here, is a complete piece of serendipity,  since it sowed itself here sometime ago and was allowed to grow naturally for a number of years.

Then, about four years ago I decided to topiarize this specimen to make it a strong feature with a distinct role.

Situated just beyond a formal garden, this laurel in the distance acts as a focal point to draw you further on around the garden.

Thus formality extends slightly outside the formal garden and the laurel makes a backward reference in the informal, growingly wooded area beyond . 

The reverse is true when you are moving in the other direction.

Of course it is a delicious plant in itself and nothing makes more of a structural point than an evergreen.

But if it is to be a focal point it does need to be sufficiently definite.

I didn’t really feel this was.

It was really after all just a blob.

Whereas I felt that I wanted straight sides and a flat top and bottom like a drum.

Prunus species are best pruned in the growing months of the year when the weather is more likely to be warm and dry and there is less danger of pathogens taking hold, specifically silver leaf.

By August the Laurel looks full and bloated and its time to do the deed.

Yet again this was a secateurs job, involving patience, but no cut leaf edges.

The bottom was easy enough to cut, the sides were comparatively easy, but the top proved more taxing.

It involved climbing up within the shrub and cutting out the top, using loppers.

The form things take has to be practical to maintain. There is no sense in things getting taller and taller so that you have to get a cherry picker in to maintain them.

The advantage of cutting out so much of the top is that I produce a more interesting shape, but also let light flood down into the structure and stimulate more growth.

Simultaneously I simplified the internal structure, cutting out crossing, rubbing branches and dead.

And branches which I felt would never really amount to anything.

As a result while from a distance it looks thick enough, close to you see that there is a lot of airy space within for the plant to perform and recover and grow.

Of course with the dramtic severance of its top the finish is not spectacularly neat. But it does now look drum shaped.

And makes a more decided, more focal shape. 

It will recover speedily from this surgery and can be tightened and neatened in small snatches as I pass by on my travels through the garden.