Cherry laurel is one of the great ‘work horses’ in the garden. Reliable, easy to grow, tolerant of most conditions, and overall a very tough and attractive evergreen shrub. But most varieties grow large, quickly topping 10 feet tall or more, and just as broad, often crowding out other plants. In today’s smaller gardens, or in restricted areas such as around your home, there is simply not enough room for them. At least, that was true until the discovery of the Chestnut Hill Cherry Laurel. This neat, compact form has all the great features of its larger brothers, but it stays small, reaching no more than 4 feet tall and wide. This makes it the perfect choice for smaller areas, smaller gardens, and low hedges – anywhere you need a tough evergreen shrub to create the structure of your garden.
The Chestnut Hill Cherry Laurel develops into a compact bush, as wide as it is tall, and growing steadily to around 4 feet tall and wide. The leaves are glossier than we see on many other cherry laurel bushes, and their rich green color really gives this plant great substance in your garden. The leaves are just 3 inches long and 1 inch wide, and they are oval, with a smooth edge and a smooth, glossy surface. This gives the plant a much more compact look, without the coarse, ‘large-leaf’ look of many other varieties of cherry-laurel. The leaves are close together on the stems, giving great natural density to this plant, even without trimming. Flowering is rare, and only occurs on older plants. When plants do flower, it happens in spring, from April to early May, and the flowers are small, creamy-white, fragrant, and bunched in groups of 20 to 25 on a short, 2-inch-long cluster. This plant remains lush and green all year round.
The solid permanence of the foliage of the Chestnut Hill Cherry Laurel makes it an ideal choice for the stable planting elements in your garden. Use it alone or in groups around your home – it will never grow too tall and need trimming, just so that you see out of your windows. It is a great choice for planting in groups to fill areas of the garden with simple plants for low-maintenance. For group planting, space plants 2 to 3 feet apart. This is the perfect choice for planting as an edging along a drive or walkway, or at the foot of a fence. Even without clipping it will always be neat and dense. For borders and low hedges space plants 18 inches to 24 inches apart, in a row. You can clip at any time, and because of the smaller leaves you will not have the typical problem when trimming cherry laurel of cut, brown edges on the foliage.
The Chestnut Hill Cherry Laurel will grow from zone 6 into all the hottest zones. This tough plant thrives in both sun and partial shade, even into darker areas, such as the north side of buildings, or beneath deciduous trees. It grows in any soil that is not constantly wet, and once established it is very drought resistant, and very tough. In the early years, water regularly and fertilize in spring with an evergreen fertilizer, but older plants will simply take care of themselves, and shrug off hot dry conditions easily. This variety has been proven to be more resistant to disease than most other cherry laurel varieties, and it rarely suffers from any pests. Overall, this great plant is tough and reliable, and it needs nothing much from you, once established.
The Chestnut Hill Cherry Laurel has an interesting history. The cherry laurel, Prunus laurocerasus, (also called English Laurel), has been grown in gardens for hundreds of years. It grows naturally around the Black Sea, in Turkey, Greece, and in Iran. Most garden plants have been developed from earlier forms growing in gardens, but in 1991 botanists from the University of Pennsylvania collected seed from wild cherry laurel trees growing in Greece. Anthony Aiello and Rochelle Dillard grew the seeds and studied the young plants, which were a new genetic stock compared to trees already in nurseries. One seedling was very different, with small leaves, compact growth and disease resistance. They selected that tree and called it ‘Chestnut Hill’. In 2014 the University was granted a patent on the plant, and it has now been made available to gardeners. Our trees are grown from stem pieces directly descended from that original plant, and genetically identical to it.
Cherry laurel are always useful in the garden, and the Chestnut Hill Cherry Laurel is a great new addition to the range of plants available, and perfect for small spaces. We know the demand will be high, so order now, while our limited stock of young plants is still available – they will be gone soon.