Olea europaea – A tree that many gardeners like to grow even if it doesn’t fruit, because they are so redolent of the Mediterranean. They need the protection of a south or west facing wall or warm microclimate in a sunny position in very well drained soil. It is an evergreen, slow growing long lived tree, growing to a height and spread of 10m (30ft), though much less in the British Isles. In central London they easily grow to 2-3m and probably will do in other protected locations. The leaves are narrowly oblong greyish-green above and silvery beneath. Small fragrant flowers are born in late summer followed by green, becoming dark-purple fruit, commonly known as Olives. They need a very hot summer to ripen, so are mainly grown for their foliage in this country.
Occasionally old specimens can be purchased at great expense, though young sapling trees are more common and relatively cheap. Hardy to -10C (14F) for short periods in a sheltered position, on very well drained soil.