06 Oct

The olive branches out

All fashionable gardens are sporting a smart new accessory – the olive tree, discovers Lila Das Gupta

“Ten years ago it was hard to get hold of olive trees,” says Wayne Page, a garden designer in west London. “I would have to order them specially and have them imported. Now it’s so much easier.” Together with tree ferns and phormiums (flax), olives have soared in popularity with city dwellers, says Page. “Everyone likes them. They’re evergreen, but they have open, light leaves, and as they are silvery in colour, they really reflect the light.”

But it’s not just the look that appeals: the size of olive trees makes them ideal for urban spaces, too. “Olives are perfect for small gardens. There aren’t many ‘small’ garden trees that actually stay small,” says Page. “An olive tree will never get unmanageable. I would say buy them in at the height you want – they will stay that height for quite a while.”

Ian Kitson, the former Chairman of the Society of Garden Designers, has also noticed the olive explosion. “They have really started to take off,” he says. “Some of it is due to climate, some of it to availability.”

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