Brenda Gousha's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Trees for Southern California.
Caribbean Copper Plant - Euphorbia cotinifolia 'Atropurpurea'
I am crazy about the foliage contrast. It looks so great when planted in a bed with bright or deep green plants behind or in front. The deep, purply foliage is a standout. Stays small, perfect for a small garden.
Champaca - Michelia champaca
Interesting, fastigate shape. Stays smallish; long and lean. Leaves are limey green and shaped like an avocado leaf. Blooms are creamy orange in color, not very conspicuous, but smell heavenly. Works well in a small garden or narrow space.
Michelia - Michelia doltsopa
Looks like a dainty, smaller magnolia (and is, in fact, related). Completely covered in big white flowers in the spring. Smells terrific. Pretty shape, well behaved, no pests. Definitely underused. The best one I have seen is at the Huntington gardens.
Victorian Box - Pittosporum undulatum
We have a really mature, huge tree in our backyard and when it blooms in late winter, early spring, the fragrance is simply the best. The fragrance seems to be keyed to temperature, so it smells most strongly in the evenings or mornings and perfumes the entire yard, even into the house.
Purple or Pink Trumpet Tree - Tabebuia impetiginosa
In the Spring, this medium sized tree drops all it's leaves and is covered with very vibrant pink flowers. Just gets you in the mood for gardening! However, patience is required because it takes a few years for the tree to mature, in the ground before it blooms fully. Well worth the wait. Nice examples to be seen at Balboa Park.