Nate’s parents came out to Portland for a short visit, and they very generously gifted my dad an olive tree!
This is an Arbequina variety of olive tree, which is supposed to be one of the more cold hardy varieties, and should survive in our zone 8b climate. Olive trees tend to prefer zones 9 and above, but some varieties be stretched to grow in Oregon.
Olive trees need lots of sun and they like dry, well-draining, calcareous soils. We also need to be cautious to provide the tree with protection from cold winter winds as olive trees really do not like to be cold.
Based on my sun studies, the front yard is the best place to plant this olive tree. It will get the most sunlight here. And now that the strawberry tree is gone, we have some more space to work with. Here’s the area once the strawberry tree was moved:
My dad would like to plant the tree a foot or two behind where the strawberry tree was planted. I want to tuck it back a little further toward the hedge. I should have taken more detailed photos, but here’s a zoomed-in picture of where I think it should be planted. At the time of this photo, there were some potted tomatoes and a heavenly bamboo bush. To the left in this photo is a camellia (which I think is in the wrong spot, but we’ve already moved one giant shrub this year….) and to the right is a rhododendron (or multiple rhodys…it’s hard to tell), which could use a good prune job.
I think this spot would provide the tree with a decent amount of protection (especially early on) and as it grows we can prune back the surrounding ornamental shrubs until it fits in naturally with the landscape. Nate and I got a little ahead of ourselves and we already move the heavenly bamboo. It was pretty easy to move, since it had been transplanted to that area just the year before. Here it is in its new home:
We also moved the tomatoes out of the way and dug down to make sure there weren’t any large roots blocking the hole. (There were some roots from an old tree stump, but they were rotting away and were pretty easy to dig out.)
The space is now ready for the olive tree. However, in doing our research before planting, a webinar by the Oregon State Extension office recommended planting an olive tree in the spring rather than in the fall so that the tree has a full season to root in before having to face any potential cold snaps. That makes sense. We can keep the olive tree on the porch this winter, and bring it into the garage if we have a cold spell with temps in the 20s or below.
It’s temporary home is here amongst its Mediterranean friends – lavender and rosemary – under the eave of the roof so it stays somewhat sheltered doesn’t get too much rain this winter.