The Tea Olive For Fragrance and Beauty

January 7, 2022

Reflections, Day 86

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
― Mark Twain

“I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours.”
― Lewis Carroll

I took a picture of a tea olive plant that was blooming in early January. Its fragrance chased me down. I remembered the fragrance from May, and June, and even September. It carries with it the essence of a fairy princess traipsing through a field of daisies. Or perhaps the essence of a ripe peach.

I love using tea olives in my landscape designs. They are evergreen, easy to care for, and the leaves are pretty all year. I haven’t figured out what triggers their bloom, but they surprise me now and then with a fresh showing of the small white flowers. Another favorable point is that deer don’t seem to like them.

The tea olive, with a bit of judicious pruning, may be kept as a medium sized shrub or grown tall and full for a screen—so much nicer and more well-behaved that the ubiquitous hollies. The plant may be turned into a tree-form with a little effort. The tree formed plants can really be show pieces.

A lot of times, I try to use gardenias and tea olives near entrances and other traffic areas so that people walking by may periodically stop, look around, and say, “Wow. Something really smells good.”

—john schulz

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