Last year the lovely Esther offered to send readers of her blog a baycorn, so that they could grow their own bay tree. I said “yes please” and in due course was delighted to see one of them sprouting. Now, I use a lot of bay leaves in the kitchen, and realised that I was going to have to be very patient before I was going to be able to harvest fresh ones from my very own little tree. Nevertheless, it was a priority plant when it came to transporting pots to Anglesey, and it has been sat, reasonably happily, in the garden ever since TNG arrived.
I am immensely chuffed with my baby bay tree, and was quite content to wait. Fast forward a few weeks. I am giving one of our neighbours a tour of the back garden, discussing what plant swaps we can make, when she says “Oh, you’ve got a bay tree”, pointing at a large dark green shrub that I had pretty much ignored so far.
And there it was, an enormous bay tree, growing away happily in the north facing border behind the Bear’s Breeches. I felt a little sorry for my baby bay tree, being so dramatically upstaged, but very excited about being able to use as many fresh bay leaves as I could possibly want, for the foreseeable future!
Then we come to today. I had decided to tackle the really over grown back corner of the back garden, behind the acer, which was being steadily strangled by, on the one hand, an unholy alliance between bindweed and brambles, and on the other, a very misshapen and over grown aucuba japonica. I knew the latter was obscuring a dead berberis and a dying lonicera, and that it was overshadowing the lovely little acer, causing it to begin to cant to the right rather. The fruits of my labours were three trugs of said bindweed and bramble mix…
…and a now instantly recognisable, tidily conical…
…bay tree. I have two! Since this one is a little under 5′, I am wondering whether I could successfully move it to a more convenient location, nearer the kitchen. I figure that since the soil is warm, and I have now bought some of that friendly mycorrhizal fungi stuff for boosting plant growth, this might be a good time to do it. What do you think?
The second bay tree wasn’t the only discovery I made by hacking back the undergrowth – and the plain laurel. One of my favourite evergreens for a north facing border is the spotted laurel’s stylish cousin, Aucuba japonica crassifolia. I had one in my last garden, and blogged about its wonderful leaves, and I had thought I might have spotted those same leaves lurking in between the plain, over grown laurel and the brambles. Once I had cleared the rubbish away, there they were, all shiny, and slightly serrated.
It isn’t a very impressive shrub at present, in fact it looks rather pathetic:
I am hoping that with more light, fewer brambles, a good feed and some careful pruning come late winter, it will eventually turn into a rather wonderful plant.
This is a strange kind of gardening, at the moment I seem to be spend more time hacking back and even removing plants than I do planting anything, but it is amazing the little surprises I turn up as I go. Having cleared all this space, I am now ready to put in my first plant order, which is hugely exciting, and have ordered the timber for the raised beds that will form the start of my kitchen garden. I just have to persuade my next door neighbour that I do, in fact, know what I am doing by removing the two conifers, so that he will lend us his chainsaw. He is concerned that we will get invaded by the Youth of Cemaes Bay once the mooted Youth Club starts up next door in the park, but said conifers are bare for the first foot and a half, and are sucking light and moisture out of the surrounding area, which is east facing and gets plenty of sun! I want to plant things that are – to me, anyway – rather more interesting, but will nonetheless give us evergreen cover, but more of that in a later post…