Prunus laurocerasus ‘Castlewellan’ syn. ‘Marbled White’. That’s a real mouthful of a name for what is just an ordinary garden shrub.
Or is it, because although some Latin-loving gardeners may have recognised it as a Cherry Laurel, it’s a bit more than that. For a start, it’s not the normal boring green usually associated with its family and which has gone a long way to giving them a bit of a bad name.
Instead of being just that normal boring green, ‘Marbled White’ has leaves which are variegated with white and which make it stand out from the crowd.
It’s also a bit thoughtful; instead of doing its best to take over the garden, it grows slowly and – given a bit of judicious pruning now and then – will quite happily remain a decent-sized but not overpowering shrub.
Grow it as an eye-catching, almost-impenetrable hedge or plant just one as a feature where its eye-catching leaves can light up an otherwise dark corner or stand out against a backdrop of morbid conifers.
Unlike many variegated shrubs, the leaves of ‘Marbled White’ don’t suffer when they fight for light; they continue to hold their marbling. In fact, this is a plant which actually prefers to be out of direct sunlight. A bit of shade is very welcome.
Left to its own devices and spared the pruning shears, Prunus laurocerasus ‘Castlewellan’ syn. ‘Marbled White’ will eventually reach a height of four metres and probably attain a similar spread. But it’s not the fastest of growers, so there is time to keep it under control.
And it’s hardy. This winter, a stand-alone specimen in my own garden withstood temperatures and weight of snow which would have ruined the foliage on many a shrub.
It’s also pretty accommodating when it comes to soil – it doesn’t demand wonderful growing conditions and lots of food and drink. In fact, its leathery leaves act as an umbrella which means that where it grows tends to be on the dry side.
Pruning bog-standard green cherry laurel can be a bit of a daunting task, but ‘Marbled White’ can be trimmed with secateurs in March and April or given a trim in late summer. Try to cut off entire leaves – it looks neater.