Unusual & Old Fashioned Fruit Trees

Olive – Olea Europaea

The Olive tree, with its small tough evergreen leaves, is native to Southern Europe and really shouldn’t grow in the UK, but with global warming and the milder Winters of recent years I thought that I would try one in the garden. The 8 inch high specimen was bought as a pot plant from an indoor sales area and planted out in the Spring.

Incredibly, planted in a fairly dry, well drained part of the garden, the tiny tree has thrived, growing into a splendid bush some 3 or 4 feet high and it has come unscathed through two full Winters, this will be it’s third. Sometimes in the Winter, when we see a particularly bad night forecast on the TV, we wrap the tree up in some horticultural fleece loosely tied with string for the night. After a hard frost the plant seems to wilt a little and one or two of the very youngest tips get burnt, but when the sun comes out the tips can be nipped off and the tree perks up again as if nothing had happened.

The Olive has white flowers which are scented and pollination results in the familiar smallish green Olives developing on the plant. The oily fruits actually need two years to fully ripen and turn black and although our little plant does produce, as yet tiny Olives, they do not stay on for a second year to ripen and they are too small to pick the first year anyway.

It is probably wishful thinking to believe that we shall ever be able to put our home grown olives in our cocktails taken on the lawn on a hot Summers evening, or indeed that we shall be able to press our own Olive oil, but as a novelty our little tree is quite a talking point, and who knows what will happen with our unpredictable British Winters. As every year goes by the tree is thickening out which means that it should withstand the cold even better in the future.

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