A specimen of Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’ growing in a sheltered corner of Trie garden. This smaller, slower-growing form has the same contorted habit as the species but reaches a height of only five feet in in eight to ten years. In Europe, the species may be a large shrub or a small tree, and can reach a height of fifteen to thirty feet.
An evergreen native to the Mediterranean, the strawberry tree has also naturalized on the southwest coast of Ireland. It is hardy to Zone 7, and is at the limit of its cold-tolerance here at The Cloisters. Our specimen was transplanted to this spot in the spring of 2008; it had been grown as a container plant for some years, and was brought into shelter in late fall. It wintered over successfully last year, although there was some dieback. Strawberry tree should be pruned minimally, since the flowers that appear in late October will provide ripe fruit in the following year. Because of the damaged wood that had to be pruned back last spring, we have flowers but no fruit this season. We intend to give the tree some extra protection this year by providing it with a hood of horticultural fleece.