This week we are looking at the Gardenia volkensii, an attractive small tree or shrub that thrives in full sun.

The evergreen to semi-deciduous Transvaal gardenia is a slow grower that can reach up to 8 m in height. The dense, rounded crown has an interesting, rigid and angular branching pattern. Shiny, bright green leaves provide feed for various game and stock species. From July to October, the tree produces masses of white, sweetly scented flowers that age to a creamy-yellow colour. These blooms normally open during the night, spreading their fragrance throughout the garden.

The ribbed, egg-shaped fruit are an added attraction to this beautiful small tree and emerge from November to January. The fruit is eaten by monkeys, baboons, elephants and buck. Fairly hardy, the Transvaal gardenia can withstand drought, but is sensitive to frost and cold wind and need to be protected when small.

This tree is lovely as a focal plant and ideal for a smaller garden with its non-aggressive root system. It can also be used for informal hedging or screening, as a container plant and is a wonderful bonsai subject.