My daughter planted Arbutus ‘Marina’ within her Mediterranean-style courtyard, since it reminds her of madrone trees in summer camp. Every time I see her tree, I believe of dividing a seventh-grade woman’s initials on a madrone back while on a Boy Scout camping trip in another time and place. Madrone (or madrona) trees, native to the Pacific Coast from Southern California to British Columbia, possess a wild beauty that appeals to the sentimental, romantic side of a number people, at least.
Arbutus‘Marina’ is a evergreen hybrid of unknown origin, closely related to the native madrone. They share the household good looks: twisted, glossy reddish trunks with peeling bark, perky small blossoms, even fairly fruit. But unlike the famously temperamental native madrone, which appears to expire at the thought of either garden-style watering or in the sight of a terrace,’Marina’ fits well into garden situations as well as conditions.
San Marcos Growers
Botanical name: Arbutus ‘Marina’
USDA zones: 7 to 9 (find your zone)
Water requirement: Lighting
Light requirement: Total sun
Mature dimensions: 25 feet tall and wide, but can grow to 50 ft
Special consideration: Drainage has to be very good, or else root diseases may develop.
Distinguishing attributes. Dainty clusters of pink blossoms dangle among leathery green leaves, mostly in spring and autumn. Even tiny branches display the bark and glossy reddish new bark.
Eye-catching fruit that seems spring to fall looks like that of the closely associated strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo). It’s edible if you’re a fan of mealy, tasteless fruit. Why bother?
The best way to use it. Make’Marina’ a stunning centerpiece of your terrace, although it can make a mild mess with falling leaves, blossoms, bark and fruit. It’s more in the home in a wilder, dry part of a garden. Ensure it is a focal point rising up out of a planting of blended California natives like manzanita, rhamnus and ceanothus. Keep lawns and frequent watering away. (Notice that in this picture, the yard isn’t permitted near the back.) Pruning away the lower branches has coached this tree to develop a rounded top.
Boxleaf Design, Inc..
Multitrunk’Marina’, with lesser branches left in position, has found a happy (dryish) home here with succulents and gravel mulch.
Growing hints. Before planting, ensure the soil drainage is pretty good to excellent. Incorporate ground bark or other organic matter in the planting hole.