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PAL Questions: 1 - Garden Tools:
I want to grow olives here in the Seattle area. Will they do o.k., and will they produce fruit? I'm especially interested in the variety 'Arbequina.'
There are some differences of opinion and experience as to whether Olea europaea may be successfully grown here as a fruiting tree. Local tree expert Arthur Lee Jacobson says that "olive trees cannot be expected to ripen fruit in Seattle, but they're worth planting in warm sunny sites for their ornamental appeal."
The discussion forum at University of British Columbia Botanical Garden has a question similar to yours, with a reply from Seattle gardener and expert Ron Brightman:
"The olive will grow in a similar spot [against a south-facing sunny wall] but may never produce much of a crop,[and may] freeze out in a hard winter. People grow olive trees in Seattle and Portland, but I have never seen a big one, even here (Seattle area), the mildest of the 3 metropolitan areas (Vancouver-Seattle-Portland)."
Excerpt from a Portland gardener on the same discussion site:
"The Olea europaea that is most popular here (Portland) is the Arbequina, from Spain. It seems quite hardy (we're colder than you) and I planted one this year and I have two olives on my tree as we speak; they grow slowly and need good drainage and max sun. Jim Gilbert from OneGreenWorld [an Oregon nursery] said that they have had them for several years and they don't have problems in the winter so far. Mission is another olive around here. They are kind of new. I think people thought only of Greek olives earlier, which would all die."
Portland, Oregon plant expert Sean Hogan discusses Arbequina and other olive varieties in his book, Trees for All Seasons (Timber Press, 2008). According to Hogan, Arbequina is "hardy to 0 degrees F or even a little below and ripens fairly well in cool summer climates."
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January 13 2017 10:35:53