Olea europaea compacta
Graceful, timeless olive twigs and sprigs, with their lovely silvery-green under leaf have been widely prized for their foliage and ancient lore throughout history. These lovely plants would make a uniquely appropriate Christmas gift for your gardening friends, as they have been a symbol of peace and prosperity throughout time. They are beautiful arranged in a vase as a centerpiece of the holiday table.
This cultivar Olea europaea compacta is a shrub version of the tree, but can be trained as a tree if chosen. It has the deep green leaves and silvery underside of the classic tree, but will only grow 6-8 feet tall and wide. It is often used as topiary, being trained to a specific shape, augmenting a nearby sculpture or fountain in the classic Greek style. It is outstanding as a potted specimen for this use, and can even be brought inside if you have a bright corner to fill. This evergreen dwarf olive shrub is bushy; multi stemmed, and showcases all the beauty of an olive tree without any of the fruit, making it perfect as a screen or hedge alongside a sidewalk or driveway that you desire to keep clear of the fruits. It is also beautiful standing alone as a shrub in an open area of the garden. As with many Mediterranean plants, it grows well in places with hot, dry summers, but also in coastal areas with cool salt air and warm summer days. Olives always prefer well drained soil; even if it is sandy or rocky, and once established will tolerate full sun and little watering. Water compacta regularly in the first year to establish a healthy root system, and also during dry hot spells in warmer areas. It is hardy to 15-20° F, and thrives in Sunset Climate Zones 3-24, 29, 30, & 33. Great companion plants are Lavandula heterophylla ‘Sweet Lavender’, and Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Irene’.
Contained in the ancient family of olives, Oleaceae, has 26 genera and 600-900 species. The family includes such trees as Ash, Jasmine, Privet, Forsythia, Fringetrees, and Lilac. It is descended from the fruiting olive trees of the Mediterranean. They are descended from the scrubby wild-growing olives of the Holy Land. There is speculation that the olive tree originally came from North Africa, to Egypt, Crete, Tunisia, Asia Minor and on into the Mediterranean where it was used widely for the oil harvested from its fruit. Olive species are cultivated agriculturally all over these areas for olives and their oil, as well as in Peru, Chile, Japan, California, and Arizona. It was first planted in Southern California by the Catholic Mission Padres, and have become known as a part of the early history of our state. The Greeks named Athens after the Goddess of wisdom and justice, Athena, gifted them an olive tree. Throughout history the branches have been offered to powerful figures as emblems of benediction and purification, abundance, glory, and peace. Originally, Olympic winners were awarded a wreath of olive twigs in this spirit. We thought it an appropriate plant to feature during our season of peace, and wish all of our customers a very Happy Holiday season. We are currently selling Olea europea compacta in gallon sized containers. Please give us a call, ‘Like’ us on Facebook, or check out our website at www.clearwatercolor.com to learn more about these and other plants we grow here at Clearwater Color Nursery.