The fragrant, rich with the peppery, floral scent of bay, the leaves of the laurel tree. This neat little evergreen has been making everything taste and smell better for centuries. Before that, it was the star of one of the most famous Greek myths. To escape the unwanted advances of Apollo, the god of the sun, the nymph Daphne was turned into a bay laurel tree by her father, the river god Peneus. Saddened by this transformation, Apollo wore a laurel wreath from then on as a mark of his love. The Greeks still call bay laurel trees ‘Daphne’ to this day.
The association with Apollo continued with the Pythia, priestesses of his temple, who used to chew bay leaves before delivering their prophecies. Wreaths of bay laurel were awarded at the Pythian Games, founded around 600 BC in Apollo’s honour.. The wreaths symbolised victory, honour and glory. And bay was supposedly also found to be good at relieving the pain of bee stings. Don’t you just love a multi-tasker?
The bay denotes high expectations for success
and we can only bow to its superior knowledge
The bay held us all under its spell ever since. The words ‘baccalaureate’, ‘poet laureate’ and the idea of ‘resting on one’s laurels’ all derive from this magnificent tree, intertwined as it is with our sense of culture, achievement and ambition. The bay denotes high expectations for success and we can only bow to its superior knowledge.
At Jo Malone London, we’re so enamoured with bay that we’ve paired it with blackberry for our Blackberry & Bay Cologne – tart, bright and invoking those typical British childhood memories of foraging along country lanes for the plumpest, juiciest, blackest fruits. The bay brings an aromatic, almost herbal warmth that cuts through the berry’s sharpness. And just as in its culinary existence, bay loves nothing more than to be blended. Layer this fragrance with something zesty and sweet. Bay really is all things to all men... and women, of course.