Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Searching for olive trees.

In hopeful anticipation that we might actually get some dry sunny weather this summer (!) I have started to think and plan out what might happen in our garden over the next year or so.

One of the things I am less happy with is that we have"inherited" the layout from the previous owners. I have altered things a lot over the years, moved shrubs here, cut down trees there, grassed over some beds, made new beds etc, but it is basically as they left it - still a very large lawn with some flower beds and lots of shrubs dotted around.

I have plans afoot  to change all that, however.

Compostgirl is nearly a teenager so the need for a huge expanse of grass to play on is lower priority now and also a lot of the existing flowerbeds have become so infested with bindweed that it is a struggle to keep them weeded. I have a limited time available to do "non food" gardening so when I do get out there I want to be enjoying my time planting and tending plants, not spending all of it just weeding or mowing!

So... some beds will have to go, especially the ones around the house, and some new ones will be made. Any bulbs and plants which are salvageable will be rescued and replanted in the wilder area of the garden and some more shrubs will go - many are past their prime and cannot be saved by even hard pruning. 

I want some screening between the patio and the road - it's a quiet lane but even so a bit more privacy would be nice. I want some new flower beds in the garden, with some structures for climbers (honeysuckles, roses, clematis)  to grow up - and we are going to re-arrange the (south facing) patio and change it around a bit to create a more attractive area to sit. So some more container plants will be added to the herbs, lavenders, scented geraniums etc which inhabit our patio in the summer months. I also want to create a scented border around the patio, filled with aromatic ( and useful) herbs.

And I definitely want an Olive tree and maybe another Bay tree.

We used to have a Bay Tree by the garage, but it died in one of the very harsh winters and I miss the dark glossy green leaves it displayed all year round.

I have always wanted an Olive tree ( and never had one before) You can now buy them in pots for the patio, so I am going to have one. Or maybe even two. To go on my new patio.When I get it.

So in the next few months I will be visiting lots of fabulous gardens to get some more ideas and last week  I spent a pleasant several hours short time on the computer looking for garden suppliers and nurseries (oh, such hardship,!) to see who sell hedging, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, climbers etc to re stock the new flower borders. (bearing in mind we are talking a large space, here!)

And I also looked around for suppliers of olive trees. I came across a lot of new and very interesting (to me) sites in my search ranging from cheap gardening supermarket chains to very expensive and exclusive providers of plants.

One of the more interesting sites I found was Athelas Plants  (fabulous name! Any LOTR buffs reading?)  who are based near Battle in E. Sussex. I first found them  last week when I googled "How to look after Olive trees"   to see if one would grow here and found their very informative Olive tree care notes.

This time around  I was also very interested in their selection of ornamental grasses - one of the areas of planting I really loved at the Yeo Valley Organic Garden was the beautiful area of ornamental grasses and I thought at the time it would be a lovely, relatively low maintenance planting (but there is no such thing, really!)  to have here at Compost Mansions. So I was interested to read about the selection they offer.

I am going to be visiting Sussex in the near future so I may well drop in to Athelas Plants and have a better look around - especially as their website says they have a lovely sounding  farm shop and cafe attached to the site! If I do, or I order from them I will post about my experiences.

So, I came away from my internet trawlings with some ideas and food for thought - I looked at lots of other websites as well as Athelas Plants in my search for plant ideas and suppliers  and I may well write a bit more about some of the others in the future.

But for now, I am still looking out, through the drizzle, on a very soggy garden.

Still, I can dream, can't I? 


As part of my review of their site I was paid to add the link to Athelas Plants in this post, but had already come across them during my Internet trawling for plants last week and was impressed, then,  by what I saw. 

As always here in The Compost Bin my words and opinions are entirely my own :-)


  1. I'm surprised that olive trees would grow in UK. I thought they preferred a warm to hot and dry atmosphere... but I'm probably wrong and plants have been adapted to your climate :-)

  2. I was surprised as well Annie - but as long as they are not wind chilled and are under cover or prtected if it gets REALLY cold they will be ok, apparently.

    I will move my patio Olive trees in to the polytunnel over winter, alomg with all the other patio pots.

  3. We have changed our back garden several times now but this latest one is for keeps we think. We keep our feet dry, managed to grow vegetables in raised containers, fruit in a fruit cage, stuff on the patio and a few fruit trees and flowers, plus a dustbin pond. Maybe the central gravel area is a waste but without it, the clothes on the line would catch on all manner of things.


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.