My tea olives are like many other New Englanders; they go to warm places for the cold season. After months outside in my Connecticut garden, these little shrubs with the big perfume have come in from the chill.
I never would have known the tea olive (aka sweet olive, aka Osmanthus fragrans) would live happily indoors had it not been for the owner of an Asian art gallery in Atlanta. Years ago, I admired the sweet little olive plant inside the gallery she and her husband owned. Assuming it was indoors temporarily, I asked how long it had been inside the building which was geting medium light.
“Five years,” was the surprising answer.
That very day I dug two from my garden in Atlanta, where they were hardy, potted them and grew them indoors until we moved to New England seven years later. During that time the fragrance from the plants covered a lot more air space than the tiny white blooms would indicate.
Here in colder climes that has not changed; with only one or two blooms, the living room is lit sweetly, especially in the morning when temperatures shift from low to higher. As the season goes on and that overnight shift becomes more dramatic, so will the bloom production – and the perfume.
How welcome it will be as the unnaturally heated air enjoys less and less recycling. Sweet olive, along with other fragrant bloomers, will bring a good dose of nature’s good smells to the house, along with a natural soothing.
What this plant is is aromatherapy. I’m sure glad I can get it here because wintering in Florida is not an option.