We have a gardenia bush just outside the lanai. Right now it is blooming and I am enjoying the sweet aromas of its white flowers. I remember when I was growing up and wore corsages for various events, my mother telling me in “The Good Old Days”, gardenias were the most popular flower for corsages. They became popular in 1937 when Rod McLellan invented the gardenia corsage. Not only are they extremely fragrant they also don’t wilt very quickly. Gardenias are synonymous with love and romance.
I did a little research on Google to check out the history of the gardenia and am quoting what information I discovered. Gardenias originated in Eastern Asia. In 1752 a Scottish physician and naturalist Alexander Garden moved to Charleston, South Carolina. Somehow he became a “pen pal” with an English merchant John Ellis, who also was a good friend of Carolus Linnaeus, a famous Swedish botanist. Linnaeus had developed the genus-and-species system for scientifically naming and classifying plants. In 1758, Ellis visited a garden outside London to inspect an evergreen shrub thought to be a jasmine that had fragrant white double blossom flowers. He and Linnaeus determined it was not jasmine. Ellis convinced Linnaeus to name the newly discoverd shrub, gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) after his friend Alexander Garden. In 1762, the first gardenia in America was planted in Dr. Garden’s garden.
Gardenias are still a popular flower for corsages and weddings, especially in the South. Plants are found in Asia, Africa, Australia, England, Pacific Islands and the Southern U.S. They also are popular houseplants. My bush only is in bloom for less than a month, so I am always thrilled to see the first blossom open.