A TREE that is becoming increasingly popular for suburban gardens and even for pot cultivation is the olive.
Once this beautiful grey foliage tree was mainly found in Greece where it provided that country's economy with a boost from the export of olives and oil.
Olives grow so well, our climate being somewhat similar, land owners have been tempted to grow olives for cropping, which, of course, means fewer imports from Greece.
This hardy tree will grow virtually anywhere in Australia where the winter is cool and the summer warm.
Although olives are evergreen they need brisk cooler conditions to prepare for flowering and fruiting in spring.
Olives are suitable for a variety of gardens.
They can be planted in Mediterranean style, used as a hedge or in a formal garden where the silver-grey foliage looks superb with white roses, lavender and a border of box.
Daily maximum temperatures can be above 30 degrees and olives can survive in heat up to 50 degrees.
Some varieties prefer a winter frost, while others will happily grow where there is no frost.
Cultivation is relatively simple, although care should be taken with young trees.
These should not be planted during winter if the temperature drops below minus five degrees.
The olive is drought hardy and will tolerate most soil types, preferring a neutral pH.
Avoid planting in heavy soils.
Prepare the soil with manure before planting, adding lime if the soil is too acid.
Then apply manure annually in autumn/winter after fruiting.
There is no difference between black and green olives.
Indeed they can be found on the tree at the same time, starting at green, changing to purplish black.