The Q&A Archives: Sweet Bay Topiary Source

Question: In England it so easy to find a bay tree that has already been trimmed into a topiary. I can't find any in the US and I don't know why. I know they grow in the parts of the states. All I can find is a 5" baby tree. I have had mine for 7 years and it is still a long way off being a topiary. Do you grow them and keep them until they can be topiaries? If not do you know where I can buy them? Thank you.

Answer: I have admired those, too. Unfortunately, I suspect that the reason for this is that in England the climate is moderate enough for the trees to be grown happily outside year round, whereas in much of this country that is not the case. In order to raise a topiary of such large size one would need to spend many years training it (as a rough guide, ten years to reach four feet) and keep the plant sheltered in a greenhouse every winter -- or grow it in California, for example. The cost of producing and shipping the plant would be prohibitive and most gardeners would have no way of keeping the plant from year to year and so would not be willing to pay the necessarily high price for them. If you are determined to have one, you might check with some of the larger nurseries in your area and see if they can locate and special order one for you.

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