I first came across this lovely evergreen shrub in my friends' garden in Yorkshire, England (top photo). I was attracted by its beautiful, glossy foliage and its dense structure. It caught my eye instantly. I have never seen it before in real life, so I asked them: What on Earth is that charming little shrub? Nobody knew. I spent a while trying to find out what it was but no luck.
Anyway, a year later, I spotted one in the garden center and it made my heart sing. It bore the name of Choisya ternata (cultivar : Sundance) and has been gracing my garden for two years now.
Mexican Orange Blossom is the common and very suitable name for Choisya ternata; in May heavenly fragrance from the flowers enriches the air and the shiny green leaves are also aromatic when crushed (reminds me of basil). What a lovely scent! Leaves comprise three leaflets, thus the species name ternata, which means grouped in threes. In mild and sheltered gardens, it will grow to 2m in height and spread. While tolerant of some shade, it is best grown in full sun. Any well drained garden soil suits it, but it grows best in rich, slightly acidic, well drained soil, and pruning involves no more than the removal of frost-damaged shoots in March (not in my case, I always get carried away with plants that need little or no pruning). It is frost hardy, but it can suffer die back in extreme winters and if not sheltered from strong winds, however will grow back. New shoots are freely produced from the base when plants are cut back. Thanks to its bright yellow foliage, the 'Sundance' cultivar really stands out in the garden.