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UK: Olive tree is July Garden Plant of the Month
The charm of the olive tree (Olea) lies in the combination of the gnarled trunk and the evergreen, silver-green leaves. Its distinctive look means the plant immediately creates a Mediterranean feel on a balcony, patio or terrace, reminiscent of the countries where olive trees grow everywhere. In May and June the olive tree flowers with scented cream flowers, which then produce olives. Those can be eaten, making the olive tree both decorative and productive.
The best-known olive is Olea europaea, a European plant. There are hundreds of cultivars which differ in terms of olive production, growth habit and the environment in which they best thrive. As a garden plant, the ‘Lessini’ olive tree is the most common: it can cope well with wintry conditions and is not particularly prone to disease.
- In Greek mythology, Pallas Athene gave her wisdom to the city of Athens in the form of an olive tree. For that reason, there is still an olive tree on the Acropolis.
- An olive branch symbolises peace and luck, and was often offered to the gods in ancient cultures.
- The distinctive colour has earned its own name: olive green.
The scientific name Olea is derived from the Latin word ‘oliva’, which in turn comes from the Greek ‘elaia’ and roughly means ‘olive fruit'. Fossil remains indicate that the plant was already growing on Earth 20-40 million years ago. Some 6000 years ago the olive spread from Armenia to southern Europe, where the trees now grow everywhere. Olive trees become more beautiful and gnarled the longer they live: they can reach the age of 1000 years. Olive trees have been cultivated for centuries to produce olives and olive oil.
Garden Plant of the Month
The olive tree is the Garden Plant for July 2018. The ‘Garden Plant of the Month’ is an initiative from the Flower Council of Holland. Every month the Flower Council works with representatives of the floriculture sector to choose a plant with an amazing look or unusual characteristics to put in the spotlight. Sometimes it will be a green star that’s highlighted, and sometimes an undiscovered treasure that deserves to be better known and merits a place in the garden, on the patio or on the balcony.
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Publication date: 7/6/2018
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