Exhibiting our Olive Trees at The Landscape Show & ‘No Fear Gardening’ Talk on growing Olive Trees in the U.K

I love September and this September hasn’t disappointed either. Maybe we had more rainfall than past years, but we also had a couple of cracking spells too: perfect growing conditions for Olive trees.

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Visit by No Fear Gardening Club

No Fear Gardening Club were our guests at the beginning of the month and Paul and I gave a talk on ‘Growing Olive Trees in the UK’. It was perfect weather for a talk on Olive trees and we all sat under the Olive branches, sipping wine and answering questions on how to care for Olive trees. There has been a huge increase of interest in curing Olives, so we were able to show off our Arbequina olive trees and have a taste of last year’s Olive crop. If you fancy curing olives from your tree, you can find my recipe here. However it’s still a little early to harvest, and I would wait another month.

The Landscape Show

We exhibited at the Landscape Show in Battersea Park London on the 19th & 20th of September. It’s an annual industry trade show where landscapers and designers get to meet suppliers and wholesale nurseries. I managed to sneak off a couple of times and attend talks. With subjects ranging from ‘The Timelessness of New Nordic Gardens’ by Zetterman garden design to ‘How Garden Design and Therapeutic Horticulture Can Help with Mental Health’ by Faith Ramsay, there really was something for everyone.

A mature specimen Olive tree at The Landscape Show

A mature specimen Olive tree at The Landscape Show

My favourite seminar was ‘How To Make It As A Woman in the Industry’, presented by some of the UK’s best award winning garden designers, Ann Marie Powell, Charlotte Rowe, Kate Gould and Sally Court. They were thoroughly entertaining, sharing their stories and anecdotal evidence that horticulture is no longer ‘a man’s world’.

I would definitely recommend signing up for next year’s event. It’s free, so great for new landscapers and designers to network and find suppliers. We made lots of invaluable new contacts with garden designers looking for Olive trees for their designs. Our mature Olive Trees in pot got lots of attention. And two of our ancient Olive trees are wending their way to London as I write.

Another gnarly Olive Tree off to pastures new

Another gnarly Olive Tree off to pastures new

Our Evenings In London

I love the buzz of London and Battersea Park is just beautiful. As Olive tree suppliers we thought it only right that we stuck to a Mediterranean diet, so on day one we ate fortifying pasta at the quirky Bunga Bunga and day two we gorged on squid at Boqueria. Bunga Bunga is next to the Royal College of Art, so was full of a young arty crowd. Boqueria had more a professional crowd and the food was great. For a moment I was no longer on a noisy, crowded corner of London but transported to a Mediterranean oasis.

The quirky Bunga Bunga restaurant

The quirky Bunga Bunga restaurant

Holkham Hall Plant Fair

Back home in Norfolk we are busy preparing for Holkham Hall Plant Fair, we will have a selection of Olive trees for sale. We will also have Cacti, Palms and some wonderful companion plants to set off your Mediterranean style garden. It’s just a stones throw from the beach and I can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend. See you there!

Revised Opening Hours

Our new opening hours for autumn/winter are:
Wednesday to Saturday 10 – 5
Sunday 10 – 4.

With more than a hundred Olive Trees in stock you are spoilt for choice.

Create a garden that is forever summer using Olive trees, palms and succulents!

Returning form our recent holiday in Peniscola, Spain, I was struck how like the English the Spanish were, in that they love to garden & create beautiful outdoor spaces. We moan about our English weather but we are blessed with excellent growing conditions and England is lush and verdant. The Spanish may have the long summers we crave, but they are cursed with dry, sun beaten earth. No lawns and borders for them as the weather is just too dry. However they are masters at creating perfumed corners of colour and form. Patios, courtyards, teeny tiny balconies are adorned with mosaic tiles, geometric patterns & the scent of orange blossom.

patio garden

The perfect patio garden

twisted olive tree

Pretty, twisted Olive tree

Even those without any exterior space have potted geraniums popping with colour outside their houses in gaily painted pots. They love their Cacti too, we saw so many impressive specimens of Cacti growing from balconies, decorating doorways and to my approval used in roundabouts & public spaces. Sempervivum, Agave and Aloe Vera are everywhere – and when they’ve run out of pots to plant up they use crates or empty tomato tins! Such is the Spanish culture for creating evergreen, scented spaces.

Pelargoniums and Cacti

Pelargoniums and Cacti – so Mediterranean

Pots in doorways

Pots in doorways are typically Mediterranean

Keep the aspidistra flying!

The aspidistra which I’ve always thought of as quintessentially ‘English’ (particularly in the Victorian era) I discovered is ubiquitous to the Spanish courtyard; Jostling along nicely with Sedum and Agave for centre stage.
With their silvery leaves, succulents are perfect garden plants and companions for Olive Trees. Potted Olive trees look great underplanted with succulents such as Echeveria ‘Dondo’ or Sempervivum arachnoideum subsp. tomentosum.

So keep the aspidistra flying! And don’t be put off by lack of outdoor space, you can create something magical and intimate in a garden the size of a postage stamp! Window boxes too are perfect at creating a Mediterranean feel whilst also exercising your green fingers & the need to grow something beautiful.

Peniscola & palm trees

Peniscola & palm trees

Opuntia

Opuntia

So, the summer holidays may have drawn to a close but you can create a garden that is forever summer and live your very own Mediterranean dream. By planting an Olive tree, be it an Olive tree bonsai, an ancient Olive tree or a corkscrew olive tree you can create a Mediterranean garden using plants that are hardy, evergreen & evocative of your summer holidays. Happy days, so grab some pots, tiles & a selection of your favourite garden plants & get growing!

Some of our favourite garden plants

Cordyline – Cordyline australis – the green varieties are the hardiest. Add grit to help drainage.

Crassula – would need to be kept in a pot and protected from frost. We have several varieties for sale Instore.

Sedum ‘Blue Carpet’ – the majority of Sedums are frost hardy.

Opuntia – some opuntia will take as low as -20C particularly ‘puntia fragilia’ ( prickly pear) available in our Norwich shop.

Olea europea – Olive trees, Olive trees can be kept in pots or planted out. They are hardy to -15C and evergreen. We have the largest varieties of Olive Trees available online. Delivery is free too. Or pop down to our ShowGarden & view our huge range of Olive trees.

Aspidisdra – survive in low light and shady areas, thrive on neglect. Make sure they don’t get too wet and that soil is well drained. Plant out or keep in pot.

Sempervivum ‘Othello’ are tough too, hardy to -15C. Drought hardy these delightful garden plants have a delightful rosette form.

Palm trees – so very Mediterranean. Many varieties are hardy to -15C such as the Chusan Palm – Trachycarpus fortunei. We offer free delivery on our palms for sale online.

pots

You can create something eye catching even in the smallest spaces!

Choosing the right Olive Tree for you and your space.

First Things First

First things first. Do you want an Olive Tree because of its sculptural evergreen beauty, or you are keen to grow an Olive tree for its fruit? With over 800 cultivars of Olive Tree if it’s fruit you’re after then getting the right variety is essential. Not all Olive Trees are self-pollinating, so go for an ‘Arbequina’ or ‘Picual’ Olive, which are both solid fruiting trees.

Fruiting olive tree

Are you keen to grow an Olive tree for its fruit?

Measure Your Olive Tree

If you are buying your Olive Tree online make sure you get the tree’s measurements. Knowing the height of the tree from the bottom of the stem to the top of the tree is essential. Olive trees are slowing growing trees, so it’s important you find an Olive tree at the height you want NOW – not in five years’ time.

If you are keeping your Olive tree in a pot, make sure you know the height of the tree from the bottom of the pot. Keeping your tree in a pot is straightforward but you are containing its growth, so again knowing the tree’s measurements ensures no unpleasant surprises when it arrives.

Now you are armed with the variety of your Olive tree and its measurements, you can think about where you want to keep your Olive tree. Olive trees like free draining soil so if you have clay soil you will need to add grit and sand when planting out to ensure good drainage. If you are keeping your Olive tree in a pot then regular pruning and feeding will keep your potted Olive happy and healthy.

Shape and Form

Now, to shape and form. The Olive is incredibly architectural with its gnarled stem. Old Olive trees look wonderful as a centre piece underplanted with Convolvulus cneorum and variegated sage. The curry plant also has a silvery hue that compliments the foliage of the Olive Tree. Ancient Olive trees also work really well in a border adding height and interest to perennials like lavender and salvia.

Old Olive tree in a border

Old Olive trees look great in borders adding height and interest.

Small patio gardens also benefit from the evergreen presence of an Olive. Sculptural trees such as the cloud pruned Olive placed against a whitewashed wall give gardens an instant Mediterranean feel.

Cloud pruned Olive

Sculptural trees such as the cloud pruned Olive placed against a whitewashed wall give gardens an instant Mediterranean feel.

A client of ours recently purchased an Olive Tree for her cottage and chose a young smooth stemmed variety which contrasted beautifully with her Norfolk flint cottage.

This smooth stemmed Olive looks great against the Norfolk flint!

This smooth stemmed Olive looks great against the Norfolk flint!

Standard olive trees or twisted stems either side of the doorway create an inviting feel.

A presentable and well kept garden is proven to add value to your property. Olive trees signify peace, hope and longevity, a tree rich in meaning to add year long colour and interest to your garden!

Caring for your potted Olive tree

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

I love this proverb with its ‘it’s never too late’ philosophy! Indeed Paul and I get so much pleasure from trees that we planted in our garden ‘way back when’. A family tradition of ours was to plant a tree on the birth of our children or to mark a new chapter in our lives. Our daughter’s corkscrew hazel and our son’s peach tree reign supreme over our garden rivalled only by the Olive Tree that we planted when we moved into our house in 2006. Now our Olive stands 12 feet tall and is visible from the road as we approach the house, a sign to us that we have arrived home.

Many of our customers however want to keep their olive trees in pots. There are many reasons why people might want a potted Olive tree rather than planting it out.

Often people are aware that they will outgrow their current house as their children grow bigger- or the empty nesters who are seeking smaller homes to enjoy. They want to change houses but keep there Olive Tree. And why not. So keeping an Olive tree in a pot does make sense.

The Olive tree is a small tree so it has a small root system. The root system of the Olive Tree is supporting and feeding the canopy of the Olive tree. So here are some tips for keeping your potted Olive tree happy and healthy.

Growing Olive trees in pots

  1. Top dress your potted Olive tree every spring with fresh compost. Scoop out a good handful of the old soil and top dress with John Innes no 3. John Innes no 3 is ideal as it’s perfect for mature specimens – so good for mature and ancient Olive trees. Younger specimens or standard olive trees in pots should be top dressed too- use any but good quality compost.
  2. Feed your olive tree regularly throughout the growing season with a mixture of fast and slow release feeds. We use miracle grow to kick start the season in Spring followed by liquid seaweed- then we top dress our potted Olive trees with a slow release that we have created, a blend of dried seaweed, guano bat pooh and Epsom salts. Olive trees love seaweed as they are a coastal tree and Epsom salts stop potted olive trees from becoming deficient in magnesium. Your potted Olive tree will display signs of magnesium deficiency if the leaves become increasingly yellow. Guano is an all round good fertiliser due to its exceptionally high content of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium: nutrients essential for tree-growth.
  3. Water well! Yes, Olive Trees are drought resistant in the ground but anything in a pot needs watering, otherwise your potted Olive tree will dry out- resulting in leaf drop. So, water well particularly through the summer months. A watering-can full every other day will keep your tree healthy and if your Olive tree has produced fruit, a good watering will help swell the fruit.
  4. Prune your potted Olive Tree in the spring. Keep your Olive Tree pruned. If you are keeping your Olive Tree in a pot the root system has to be able to send nutrients to the tree canopy- if you don’t prune your olive tree the canopy will grow too big for the pot size- the result is leaf drop,die back, straggly branches and pale magnesium deficient leaves. If you have olive tree topiary such as the niwaki inspired cloud olive then cloud pruning is essential to keep the cloud shape. Trim annually with secateurs or shears in early or late summer to keep cloud olives in shape. The same is true of the corkscrew olive tree, keep their ball heads regularly trimmed to keep their striking topiary shape.

We don’t sell large pots for trees but we have plenty of ideas how to decorate your potted Olive tree. Wrapping in hessian is simple but fetching, a client of ours wrapped her large pot in chandlery rope and I love the rustic effect.

So when keeping your Olive tree in a pot be sure to keep them watered, fed and pruned!

We have plenty of large Olive trees for sale online and here in our Norwich show garden. So fear not – you can keep old olive trees in a pot providing you with year long colour and interest for each chapter of your life and house move. You will always have your potted Olive tree.

olive trees in pots for sale uk

Scooping off the top layer of soil.

Top dressing

Top dressing.

Pruning back the canopy

Pruning back the canopy.

A potted Olve tree

A potted Olve tree.

Exhibiting our Olive Bonsai at Gardeners’ World Live

Our week exhibiting at Gardeners’ World Live was a huge success. Our Olive tree bonsai at the heart of our garden design drew lots of attention by both the media and the public. We created a small Mediterranean garden with our olive bonsai set amongst companion garden plants such as Rhodanthemum ‘Casablanca’ and Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’.  We also used in our design ‘Creeping Red’ thyme grown here in Norfolk by Norfolk Herbs. It really pulled the whole design together, creating a delightful small garden. The public loved it as it reminded them of Mediterranean holidays and people enjoyed telling us tales of their favourite Olive tree spotted whilst holidaying.

Thyme 'Creeping Red'

Thyme ‘Creeping Red’ – grown in Norfolk by Norfolk Herbs.

Talking Olive tree care

I gave talks every day in the VIP lounge on ‘Growing Olive trees’ and ‘Olive tree care’. I shared the same stage every day with the likes of Michel Roux Junior, Nadia Hussain and Antonio Carluccio. Guests loved tasting last year’s crop of preserved Arbequina olives.  With temperatures rising to 30 degrees both myself and the public struggled to ask and answer questions on pruning olive trees and what to do when planting Olive trees.

Sharing the stage with Nadia Hussain

Sharing the stage with Nadia Hussain.

Other Show Gardens

But it wasn’t all hard work, we got to visit the big show gardens early in the morning before the show opened and that felt wonderful being able to soak up the gardens before the crowds arrived!

My favourite was the Nostalgia Garden by Paul Stone it reminded me so much of my youth and visiting my grandmother that it made me weep. I spoke to many visitors and they all said they had the same physical and emotional reaction to it. Paul had created a village store from the 1960’s with an old mini parked up and old petrol pump and potted plants. He’d even built a humpback bridge with running stream, a bucolic rural scene from yesteryear.

The Nostalgia Garden

The Nostalgia Garden by Paul Stone.

There is always a buzz and great atmosphere in the floral marquee and we’re lucky to have such talented neighbours. John Cullen Gardens grows plants for pollinators and he had some wonderful perennials – my favourite was the Achillea ‘Moonshine’ and I think it’s a perennial that will prove very popular as Carol Klein was expounding its virtues on the BBC Gardeners’ World Live programme. Paul liked the Achillea so much he added it to our display at the last moment. The yellow really popped and looked great planted with the Rhodanthemum, giving more height and texture to the display.

Bumblebee

Plants for pollinators – like this Bumblebee

Achillea 'Moonshine'

Achillea ‘Moonshine’.

Our bonsai olive tree in our Gardeners' World Live exhibit

Our bonsai olive tree in our Gardeners’ World Live exhibit.

Our Olive Trees getting some media attention from the BBC

Our Olive Trees getting some media attention from the BBC.

Just one day to build our exhibit- but we did it!

Just one day to build our exhibit- but we did it!

Very popular with everyone was the peony birthday cake that celebrated 50 years of Gardeners’ World. It took three days to build and I did not envy them as they meticulously placed each peony into the five foot tall cake. Alex from Primrose Hall Nursery (I know – confusing name for a nursery that specialises in peonies) spoke passionately on BBC Gardeners’ World Live about his love of peonies and how it was his grandfather who nurtured and inspired him to follow a path into horticulture – a circuitous route I believe after spending several years practising law!

Peony Cake

Peony Cake – celebrating 50 years of Gardeners’ World

At the other end of the floral marquee was the cactus couple Vicky and Stan from Craig House Cacti. Multi award winning medallists from Chelsea, Vicky and Stan are like the mum and dad of the floral marquee. With years of experience under their belt they are incredibly kind and supportive with lots of advice for novice exhibitors like ourselves.

We made a typical schoolboy error and didn’t take enough olive trees for our sales stand and had to rush back to Norwich (no mean feat from Birmingham) to stock up on the popular standard Olive tree.

Cactus display

Cactus display – Craig House Cacti.

Award winning Air Plants

Award winning Air Plants.

Air plants

More Air Plants

Back home to our Olive tree nursery

It feels so good to return to our Olive tree nursery. All the Olive trees are in flower and buzzing with life as hungry bees tuck into the Olive trees’ pollen. The arbequina Olive tree in particular is full of flower – they flower and fruit earlier than other Olive varieties so make them an excellent choice for growing Olives.

Our Olive tree sale continues

Our Olive tree sale continues until Sunday the 25th June. There’s also a selection of palms and yucca reduced by 15% –  some wonderful treats for garden lovers. We have some choice mature olive trees for sale including the Arbequina Olive tree from Catalonia and the classic standard olive tree, which is absolutely perfect for adorning doorways. So now is a good time if you want to buy an Olive tree.

All our Olive trees come with a care sheet and we’re more than happy to offer ongoing aftercare advice. We understand that when you buy trees you want a high level of customer service as these are significant investments and that expert information and advice on caring for Olive trees is of utmost importance. Here at the Norfolk Olive Tree company that’s what we do better than anyone else.

Next delivery to our Olive tree nursery

 Our next Olive tree shipment arrives this Friday. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the Olive bonsai we hand picked – more beautiful Olive tree bonsai than you can shake a stick at!

We’ve picked some charming Arbequina olives, both young and old Olive trees, ranging from 3 to 300 years. In truth, there were so many we couldn’t resist, we had to have them.

So Friday night we are going to be flat on our face with exhaustion or propping up a bar somewhere…..it’s a hard life!