Falling into the Scent of Sweet Olive

Courtesy of louisianablooms.com
Photo courtesy of louisianablooms.com

A friend of mine texted me this morning and said that he caught the scent of Sweet Olive on the air this morning reminding him of the transition from summer into fall. I had forgotten about Sweet Olive. My maternal grandmother had Sweet Olive in her yard in Denham Springs when I was growing up. I don’t remember where the bushes were which is a surprise since I have a very distinct picture of her circular driveway lined with lilies and the old live oak trees scattered throughout the yard dripping with Spanish Moss. I can still see as plain as day what that yard looked like, but, for the life of me, I can’t remember where the Sweet Olive tree was planted. And maybe she had several.

When they were in bloom – according to sources from spring going into summer and from summer going into fall – she would roll some of the blooms up in a tissue and give them to us. The aroma is heady and very, very sweet. My guess is your blood sugar rises once the scent hits your olfactory nerve, so be careful if you are diabetic. But, I wouldn’t take medical advice from me. I’m just a common blogger. We’d take those tissue-wrapped blooms and place them in our lingerie drawer as a sachet. But, I’d more often than not sniff it to death in an effort to burn that sweet scent into my brain. I have remembered it’s scent over the years but never remembered to ask the name of the tree until this spring when Momma and I were at the Farmer’s Market. They had one one growing in a pot, and I considered buying it. The grower said they don’t transplant easily, and they would need to be permanently planted somewhere in a few years. Transient as I am, I balked. I may reconsider.

Photo courtesy of easybloom.com
Photo courtesy of easybloom.com

My friend Nancy is a professional grower, and she gave me the following information on growing Sweet Olive.

Not hard to grow. Easy to find at any nursery. Scent makes them special. They are susceptible to whiteflies, and if an infestation gets hold can cause fungal damage. But this should not keep you from planting one. And now is the perfect time to plant. Or after last frost, anytime after March 18. Just pick up some ready to use insecticide when you buy one. You will probably buy a small one, 1 gal – 3 gal, it will grow to about 15 ft tall and probably 3-5 ft wide, so be careful where you put it. Otherwise, ENJOY!!!!

I love this transition from summer into fall. It’s not a big transition here since the temps don’t plunge like they do in more northern climates. Maybe that’s why it’s the scent of certain flowers that announce the coming season. I bought some pears at Trader Joe’s the other day, and they are without a doubt the sweetest, most delicious pears I’ve ever eaten. I bought a 3 lb. bag, and I dread the day they are gone. The air is lighter with lightened humidity, and my AC is not working overtime to cool my house at night. I am so grateful for the change. I wish it was cooler. I REALLY wish it was cooler, but cooler comes really slow down here in South Louisiana. The 78 degree temps in the forecast for Saturday’s Lions’ game will be a welcome change from today’s 90 degree fare. I can’t wait.

When I was researching Sweet Olive, I found a few things of interest. There is a Sweet Olive Bed and Breakfast in New Orleans that looks really lovely. I found a Sweet Olive Bakery & Juice Bar in Fairhope AL. Several of our faculty members for my little online program work at a community college near there, so I texted one of them who has become a good friend. She said she’d never been there. There’s a donut shop she frequents that is her favorite. She told me sometime in the past that Fairhope is an enigma in rural Alabama. It’s a quaint little liberal town with lots of organic foods and unique shops. The number of Ph.D.s in that area are staggering. I also found a Sweet Olive Soap Works in New Orleans that features several products with the Sweet Olive fragrance. I may have to take a roadtrip to check out these Sweet Olive destinations. Maybe in the absence of apple orchards and fall leaves, I need to embrace the Sweet Olive as my new symbol of fall. If anybody knows where I can find some blooms, let me know. I’d love to bring a few home to put in my lingerie drawer …. if any can survive my nose.

4 Comments on “Falling into the Scent of Sweet Olive

  1. Today I am on the hunt for sweet olive – also one of my favorite memories from childhood and my great-grandma and grandma yards.

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