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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

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By Mrs FM

Unusual & Old
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Alan J Hartley



Tree Project.

Laurus Nobilis – Bay Tree.

Laurus Nobilis, or “Sweet Bay,” is the true Laurel and is not related to any of the bright green leaved, poisonous, bushy plants, that in England we all call Laurel. Bay trees are not actually related to the Spotted Laurel, (Aucuba Japonica) or the various European Laurels one of which is called “Cherry Laurel,” (Prunus Laurocerasus) and is actually a member of the cherry family. As with the common Laurel, the Bay tree will produce small inedible berries that turn black when ripe. For berries to develop on mature specimens it is necessary to have a male and female tree as the sexual parts of the flowers are on different trees, although, the only purpose for this would be propagation as Bays are grown for their edible leaves.

The Sweet Bay is a native of South Eastern Europe and Northern Africa as it likes a mild dry climate, but having said that it will endure most Winters in Great Britain if planted in a well drained area that gets some shelter from the worst of the cold winds. As an added precaution small bushes can be wrapped with horticultural fleece overnight in the Winter when a hard frost is forecast.

When planted in the ground Bay trees can reach a height of up to 60 feet, but in reality they are more likely to grow into a large bush. Indeed many are grown in pots and sold in the UK at garden centres as ornamental bushes meant for “Topiary” work. Most trees do not grow well in pots kept on patios as they tend to dry out too much, but the Bay is one that will thrive in such conditions as long as it is watered in dry spells. Also pot grown plants are easily moved into shelter on the coldest Winter nights.

Bay trees can be bought in a range of sizes and prices with specimens of 3 or 4 feet costing a lot of money. It is often possible though, to find small pots of Bay seedlings on sale for a few pounds. There can be as many as 20 to 30 small plants in one of these bargain pots and if carefully divided and nurtured they will develop into fine specimens that can be used to make a cheap Bay hedge.

Sweet Bay leaves have long been used as a flavouring agent in cooking right back to the times of ancient Greece and Rome. Indeed the Bay was such an important part of life then that victors at sporting competitions in ancient Greece and Rome were often crowned with a wreath of “Laurel leaves.”



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