Olivia and the Olive Trees of Navasola

I am back at Navasola and involved in the chestnut harvest and looking for any olives I can find that have not fallen. So I will post about the wonders of the Mediterranean olive tree and my first granddaughter Olivia. Thank you for all the kind comments on my previous post as we awaited the birth and particularly Eliza Waters for the interesting expression about birth ‘ may it unfold with ease! Well, as with most births there is some drama but it was with ‘relative ease’ that Olivia Jane arrived into this world. The name Olivia was chosen by her father and the name Jane is a family name. Unknown to this little Olivia the name seems to derive from Italian and Oliva after the significance of olive trees in Mediterranean and biblical culture. However, it seems to be William Shakespeare who made a slight addition of the ‘i’ to create the character Olivia in 12 th Night.
So here at Navasola I have plenty of olive trees for Olivia to one day get to know. I’ve included a photo from Wikipedia to show the development of the flowers. These can be so small and easily missed. On my botanical illustration course I drew some olives from a photo but could not remember ever seeing the flowers. As that was when I was working I thought I just missed the season they bloomed. I am also aware that I am missing some of the small changes as Olivia grows but thanks to video and Skype I can follow the progress of a small human too!

View from era to house, through olive grove of 21 trees

The beauty of the olive tree may be in its evergreen silvery grey dancing leaves, its light bark and of course its fruit, the bitter olive that the birds still peck at in Autumn. Olive cultivation is very old but seems to have originated from the region around Italy. We are not sure how this bitter fruit was first discovered to be so useful as there are certain processes needed to remove the bitter phenols in it. However, with crushing the bitter phenols break down. Therichness of the oil became sacred and well known for its healthiness and healing properties. The Olive branch has become a symbol of peace, purity and wisdom in ancient times used in wreaths to recognise achievements. 

I decided to plant an olive seed or two for Olivia but on looking this up encountered a few surprising facts about cultivated Olive trees. It seems to be that by just planting  a seed it will only produce a wild olive. This will produce smaller fruit.  Cultivated Olives are engendered mainly through grafting. This might explain why I do not find many new olive trees growing on the finca unlike the productivity of the chestnut seeds. These and plums seem to grow up anywhere possible!

Black olives high in tree against Andalusian blue sky
However, the Olive is a long lived tree and it’s roots can withstand fires and will send out sucklings. Here at Navasola the trees have become too tall to harvest commercially but I will set out today to see what olives I can find for our own use. It has been such a dry, long hot summer and this has affected the size of the chestnuts and seems to have dried out a lot of olives. Many have fallen to the ground early and in a wizened state. But there are some and I will finally do a count of the olive trees, mostly situated on rocky slopes, where they can survive with much less water than the chestnuts. How much less is not yet known. I hope we can help all learn to be more resilient to climate changes and its effect on our own landscape, flora and flora here and globally help prevent more rises in temperature.  This has been our hottest and driest year yet.

With thanks to all my readers and followers and I hope to have more of a routine set up to write to and follow all your posts in the coming year.

Below, the growth of Olivia Jane, week by week. From newborn to 4 weeks and many subtle  changes. And the growth of flowers on an Olive tree!



The growth of Olive flowers by J Oteros on wikipedia

22 thoughts on “Olivia and the Olive Trees of Navasola”

  1. Hi 🙂 Congratulations to little Olivia Jane for making it into this world!! Those photos of her made me smile. 🙂 I wish her well with all the growing up and exploring to come. Hopefully, she won’t grow up too fast and you will be able to visit her often. I don’t know the distances or difficulties in travel there. It is really nice to have videos and Skype to keep in touch. You live in a really interesting place. I imagine she will have fun exploring there with you once she is a little older. And I learned something new about olive trees today. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sarah, Olivia is growing well and her Mum much more settled. I was glad to be around and help as my mother did for me. We forget sometimes the impact of birth and a newborn and that women usually have given support. I also learnt something new about olives as I researched how to plant from seed! I’ll be in touch soon as hope for more settled routine and will send you more of my novel. I would be grateful for you to read some more. Not heard anything yet but seems it can take over 8 weeks. I’ve now sent to another agent too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am looking forward to reading more of your story. 🙂 And new posts and hopefully some photos of little Olivia as she grows up. 🙂 It is a big transition both for the baby and the parents! When I have had the opportunity, I have very much enjoyed being around the very young. It is inspiring to watch them see the world for the first time and what they make of it. The last place that I lived, one of my neighbor families had a toddler. I can still remember going down the stairs to leave the apartment building and seeing him at the bottom of the stairs with his parents looking up and watching the snow fall. His eyes were sparkling. I think your story has a lot of potential. I hope you keep sending it to agents until you find one that resonates with the story and you. I don’t know about the publishing world from personal experience. I have read articles by published authors about how they got started and it seems persistence and courage featured heavily in the effort. Good luck! 🙂


  2. Ahh…a wonderful post celebrating the birth of Olivia and the beauty of the olive trees and their story! She is so sweet, bright and alert and I am glad all went well – warmest congratulations on your first granddaughter! Olives are a wonderful interesting fruit…I’ve walked in the olive groves in Greece and there is something quite timeless about them.; the leaves almost shimmer with silver. What a lovely idea to plant a seed or two in honour of your granddaughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations to you all, and a very warm welcome to Olivia . . I wonder if she will ever read this!

    And the grafting certainly explains why we forever see new graftings in the Algarve.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, guess if she can access the archive of WordPress one day she might be able to! Hubble is just going through a blog called brain pickings which has links back to articles over 11 years. Yes, it surprised me that I hadn’t even thought about how cultivated olive trees reproduce!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How beautiful of a post, the name, the olive trees and of course your sweet baby granddaughter! I use olive oil in my herbal infusions and I’ve found it to be wonderful for the skin. I love fresh olives and am envious of your trees. How wonderful to have these as common foliage where you live. It looks just amazing! So glad to have found your blog!!☯️💕😊🕊️ ~Anne

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such a beautiful way to celebrate the birth of a beloved granddaughter, Georgina, whose name carries a legacy rich with connections and meaning. I send my best wishes to you, your family, and lovely Olivia Jane. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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