Monday, October 13, 2008

Tea Olive

I have worked for my current company for 11 and a half years. A year and a half ago, we moved downtown from our suburban office park. That means that for 10 years I walked from the parking deck past a row of three 20 or more year old tea olives twice a day. They bloomed in the spring and in the fall, and I looked forward to their blooming knowing that the fragrance was amazing. That walk during the short few weeks each spring and fall are what I recall most about working there.

Have you met a tea olive? Don't know? If you met a tea olive in bloom, you'd know. It's the most exquisite fragrance and it comes from tiny, tiny white flowers. The smell reminds me of how a perfect apricot tastes, if that makes any sense. Gardenias are nice, and I have one of those too, but this, well, this is the best.

Saturday I was standing on my deck, dreaming about what the backyard could look like when it grows up. And I smelled it. The unmistakeable fragrance. Yippee, my tea olives were blooming.

In her classic, A Southern Garden, Elizabeth Lawrence wrote that in Thomasville [GA] there is one at every doorstep and in midwinter the town “smells like a perfume shop.”

That was written in 1942. I hope that it's still true for Thomasville. I'm lucky mine are growing because it prefers full sun and I've got so much shade.

Maybe I'll add one in the front this winter so it can be ready to go in the spring.


  1. We have several of those behind the house & I love them too. It's one of those smells that just make you peaceful. Tea Olives, Gardenia's, & Confederate Jasmine are my favorite.

  2. Something that smells better then a gardenia? I must run and get one right now. I can only imgaine! This was a beautiful post.

  3. Thats one of the things i miss about living in Alabama, Those blooms smelled so good, like a cross between lilac and gardenia..



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