The olive tree is a symbol of longevity, it’s not unusual to find an olive grove with a few or more trees that are several thousands of years old. They are gnarled, beautiful and command respect alongside and perhaps because of it’s role as provider – of lovely fruits, oils and very attractive wood. And then as a universal symbol of peace, the idea of ‘holding out an olive branch’ is to offer forgiveness and reconciliation.
The shape of the olive fruit, a sort of fat droplet, is a good one to use for buttons and decoration generally. However, it is perhaps the so-elusive colour of the leaves’ underside that creates the most interest in furnishings: silver, then pale green and then mid green depending on the light–very difficult to recreate.
Nevertheless, olive in any incarnation is a good basic colour: as a background to soft blues and fresco colours, to temper browns and blacks and a great foil for florals and patterns. It is one of those colours you don’t really notice, but it does a cracking job for you.
The shape of the olive and the olive branch are in addition a well-loved inspiration for carvings, applique and embroidery. My fireplace, sourced from Provence, has lovely, gentle olive branches carved into the soft limestone.