The advantages of using indigenous as opposed to exotic trees, is that you'll be creating the natural habitat for all kinds of birds, bats, butterflies and other creatures. Also, very often indigenous trees are less prone to disease, and require less water.
I've placed the spotlight on a few trees that would be great in a small garden in previous posts. Some of my favourites are the Tabernaemontana or Toad Tree, and the Halleria lucida.
But there is an amazing variety of trees to choose from. These trees would be easy rivals to most exotic trees that are established first choice plants:
Aloe Barbarae - Tree Aloe - Majestic and statuesque
Brachylaena discolor - Silver Oak - Great coastal shrub/ small tree with silvery foliage
Cussonia species - Most Cabbage trees are great for small gardens, as they don't take up a lot of space, or create too much shade. Beware of the roots though!
Dichrostachys cinerea - not easy to find in most nurseries, but worth the search.
Dombeya species - there are several Dombeyas that are perfect for small gardens.
Heteropyxis natalensis - Fragrant and pretty.
Millettia grandis - attractive purple flowers and reddish pods.
Ochna serrulata - is covered in bright yellow flowers, and then red and black fruits. Is slow growing though. (Photo above)
Olea species - great for a mediterranean style garden, very neat looking, can be easily trimmed to shape.
Trema orientalis - commonly called a Pigeonwood because birds love the berries and use it to nest in. Very fast growing, but relatively short-lived. A little untidy though.
Turraea floribunda - attracts an abundance of birds and insects to its beautiful flowers.
Xylotheca kraussiana - Slow, but worth the wait...
I will expand on some of these trees in posts to follow, but check out Plantzafrica for details on each of them in the meantime. You can also check out other posts on indigenous plants for South Africa.