Now that fall, the season to plant, is almost here, just about all of us are eager to visit garden centers, either simply to browse or look for specific shrubs, trees, or perennials to add to the landscape. I can say this for sure because, even though I have decided to somewhat downsize the garden due to lack of the overall “muscle power” that I had years back, still I look forward to this activity and, more often than not, find myself yielding to temptation upon seeing an unusual or interesting plant to keep the passion of gardening alive.
Speaking of passion, quite a few of us who love gardening like to make flower arrangements as well and are, therefore, always on the lookout for plants that will provide live material, not only the flowers but greenery too. As a matter of fact, while the flowers add color and beauty to a design, greenery or foliage is indeed the backbone, providing contrast and structure that flowers alone cannot. Therefore, I feel very blessed to have acquired a much sought-after plant from a very dear friend of mine who has herself raised the specimen she gave me right from the seed; although a little slow at first, the gift of friendship has endured the test of time and is now flourishing in our garden.
Known as Poet’s Laurel, or Alexandrian Laurel, this one is truly a must-have in the garden, not only for the prized cut foliage, but it is one the most striking, elegant evergreens that gives a special touch to any landscape. Interestingly, whereas Poet’s Laurel, called Danae racemosa in Latin, belongs to the lily family, it is totally unlike any of its relatives because the flowers are very inconspicuous, nowhere near like the showy ones the other members of the family bear. The beauty of the plants, nevertheless, lies not in the flowers but in the arching, emerald green branches that flower arrangers covet; another asset of this evergreen is the small berries that turn red in fall, making them even more attractive. An interesting fact worth noting is that the lance-shaped “leaves” are really flattened stems, the true leaves being quite small and not easily seen.
Poet’s Laurels like to be grown in fertile, moist soil in partial shade, as too much sun can cause the leaves to scorch, resulting in the overall loss of vigor of the plant; therefore, plant at protected locations and provide water regularly to maintain healthy growth.
Though Poet’s Laurels are slow to grow, during the course of time the plants – because of their graceful, arching branches – acquire a very artistic shape, providing us with the long-lasting, cut foliage we have become so fond of.