With its waxy, shiny green leaves, gardenias have a powerful and unmistakable fragrance that makes them a favorite flower for gardeners as well as artists. When Hattie McDaniel won her Oscar for Gone With the Wind, she wore a gardenia in her hair. The flower was also a favorite of singer Billie Holiday. Gardenias love subtropical weather, and in places such as Tahiti and Hawaii, it is used to create that famous flower necklace. While it does come from the same family as coffee, the gardenia is a delicate and temperamental plant.
Gardenias originated in Asia and have been seen in paintings from the Chinese Song Dynasty, which reigned between 960 to 1279 AD. They were introduced in England in 1757 and showed up in America in 1762, grown by Scottish-American botanist Alexander Garden, after whom they were named. Since then, gardenias have achieved horticultural acclaim for their elegance and fragrance.
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