Cornutia grandifolia Jamaican Lilac
Jamaican Lilac is a fragrant, showy shrub native to the cloud forests of Costa Rica. Long stems of purple flowers bloom against deep green foliage. It's not a lilac, but is just as showy and the foliage smells wondrous year round.
Cornutia is almost unknown outside it native range, but it's very easy to grow. Long spikes of purple flowers rise above velvet leaves that perfume the whole garden. The fragrance is more intense when the foliage is crushed, lovely when you brush against it. Its crisp, breezy lilac scent is the basis for many a bottled fragrance. Butterflies love it.
Jamaican Lilac is a small bushy tree, can be pruned to fit most any spot, makes an ideal privacy hedge. It thrives anywhere in zones 9-11, likes filtered sun or shade, most any soil, average water, and seems immune to pests. It makes a perfect bonsai.
This uncommon plant grows easily from seed. It should be in more gardens.