Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) is a beautiful evergreen shrub of culinary fame. How cool to pick your own bay leaves to dry or use fresh in recipes! And yes, some cooks want it dried, but fresh also works.
In its native habitat, Bay laurel can get up to 40′ tall, but here it will remain much shorter, closer to 5 feet tall, though Trisha‘s at Lake Austin Spa is way beyond that!
You can also hedge it back, to keep it manageable if it gets too tall. It also does great in a container.
Since Mediterranean winters are not usually as cold as ours here, you may need to protect bay laurel on an extra cold night, especially during the first few years. But well-established trees should experience very little freeze damage, even with temperatures down into the teens, as long as those temps are not prolonged.
Bay laurel prefers very rich, well-drained soil, so be sure to amend the planting area (not just the hole) with lots of compost. It requires full sun to thrive, but will struggle in areas with reflected heat and very dry air. You will need to water bay laurel regularly, but not more than once a week, once established, except in very hot, prolonged dry spells. Of course, since this is a culinary plant, you’ll want to harvest some of the leaves, which you can do at any time of the year. Since bay laurel is so shrubby, it responds well to pruning, especially if it’s healthy, and will put on new growth every time you harvest.