Flowers to cheer us through the Big Freeze
05 July 2014 - by Lizzy Browne

The main topic of conversation in the UK for the last couple  of weeks has understandably been the weather. Not the usual passing the time of  day pleasantries that we English are so famous for, bit nippy this morning,  kind of remarks but, Oh my word, its game over for the garden!!!

Is this exceptional freeze a temporary blip? Is it set in for  the rest of the winter? Is the Gulf Stream that keeps our island mild shutting  down permanently? Who knows? I guess were about to find out. Weve been  spending the last few days knocking snow off the tunnels some were groaning  under the weight of it and the carnage of a collapsed roof falling onto a tunnel  full of plants would not have been a pretty sight.  Stock that wed planned to  leave outside, has been squeezed into every nook and cranny in tunnels and  glasshouses its amazing how, after declaring a greenhouse so full you  couldnt slide a fag paper inside, with a bit of imagination, nay desperation,  you can find yet more space willing to house another poor little frozen  Pittosporum or Chamaerops refugee. Even though some of the plants weve tucked  away would be considered really hardy in the garden, those same plants in 3L  pots, outdoors all winter in a nursery, wont look their best come spring. But  one plant that seems to be positively relishing the big freeze is Arbutus unedo.  As I brushed off the snow this morning its jaunty little flowers greeted. And,  yesterday in Norwich city centre, I checked up on my old friend the Phoenix  canariensis outside John Lewis. Its looking amazing and in flower! I didnt  have the camera but will go take a photo soon. However heres a description of  Arbutus unedo from our website.


Arbutus unedo


(Strawberry tree)

Family Ericaceae

Originating from Mediterranean and Ireland

An evergreen tree, with an abundance of glossy, leathery dark  green leaves, beautiful red/brown, shredding bark and drooping panicles of  pink/white Lily-of-the-valley like flowers in late autumn/winter. It produces  small orange/red fruits, which take 12 months to mature, so its usual to see  fruits and flowers on the tree simultaneously. The fruits, while edible are not  particularly palatable (unedo means I eat only one), and are probably best  left for the birds, at a time of year when food is scarce late autumn/winter.  One of the many attractive features of Arbutus unedo is the gnarled looking  nature of its trunk and branches with their peeling, shredding bark. Even quite  young trees can have the appearance of venerable old age.

It is eminently suitable for small gardens, quickly achieving  its mature height of only approximately 5m in the UK. Although a member of the  Ericaceae family, and one would assume requiring acidic soil, Arbutus unedo is  lime tolerant, but in very chalky soils it may not achieve its full growth  potential. An easy tree to grow requiring little if any pruning, but may be  grown as an evergreen hedge with regular clipping.

Grow in fertile, moist but well-drained soil in sun.

Height and spread 5m.

  Share Post   

View Comments Comments

Leave a Comment






Back to Top