Poet’s Laurel: Elegant in the garden, lovely in a vase

Weather, nowadays, is typical of fall: cool and crisp. Leaves of deciduous trees and shrubs are beginning to show their spectacular colors before they eventually drop. Fall, with little doubt, is the time to plant, too, therefore the urge to visit garden centers rises after the  brief hiatus at the tail end of summer. For me, the trips are more or less to see what’s new and noteworthy, though there is no telling what I might end up bringing home. Yielding to temptation, I think, keeps the passion of gardening alive.

Speaking of passion, quite a few of us who love gardening, also enjoy making flower arrangements, and are always on the lookout for plants which provide the necessary material: flowers, as well as greenery. While flowers add boldness, color and beauty to an arrangement, greenery or foliage is the backbone, providing contrast and structure that flowers alone cannot. In fact, there are times when just a few clippings of foliage kept in a vase are sufficient to liven a dull nook. Poet’s Laurel is one of them.

Also know as Alexandrian Laurel, this shrub is a must-have in the garden, not only for the prized cut foliage, but it is one of the most striking, elegant evergreens for any landscape; I feel truly blessed to have been given this much sought-after plant by a very dear friend who raised it from seed. It had a slow start, but the gift of friendship is flourishing in our garden now.

Interestingly, though, Poet’s Laurel, which goes by the name Danae racemosa in Latin, is a member of the lily family, the beauty of the plant lies not in the inconspicuous flowers, but the emerald green arching branches that flower arrangers adore; another asset of Poet’s Laurel is the small berries the plants bear, which turn a lovely red in fall. A fact worth mentioning here is that the lance-shaped leaves are actually flattened stems, the true leaves being very small and not easily seen.

Poet’s Laurel likes to be grown in fertile, moist soil in partial shade; too much sun can scorch the leaves leading to overall loss of vigor of the plant. Therefore, grow plants at protected locations and provide water regularly to maintain healthy growth. Since our soil is not the greatest, I sprinkle some Plant-tone around the base of the shrub generally in spring when new growth starts to appear.

Though slow-growing, but over the course of time, plants acquire a very artistic shape because of their graceful, arching branches which are so easy to fall in love with.     

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