Native to the Mediterranean region, the bay tree is widely cultivated as an ornamental there and as a houseplant in colder climates – mainly because it’s an excellent candidate for growing as a topiary. Hardy only to zone 7, it’s ideal for forming low hedges. Although it can grow into a tree up to 40 to 50 feet tall, bay is often maintained as a large shrub in containers. In spring, it puts out small yellow flowers, which by fall develop into dark purple berries.
Include beautiful lavender in your garden plans to help keep biting mosquitoes at bay. Varieties with higher camphor properties are the most effective insect repellents. This includes ‘Provence’ and ‘Grosso’ lavender. On a sunny day, lavender releases its aromatic oils naturally. In the evening, reap its bug-busting benefits by crushing flower buds and leaves and rubbing them on your skin. Tuck lavender into pots or planting beds. Grab lavender topiaries if your outdoor seating areas feature a formal flair.