In the interests of providing you with the most accurate information possible, I have conducted an exhaustive survey of the city, and it seems that you can’t walk 20 metres at the moment without stumbling across some sort of frangipani.
Within an easy half-hour stroll of Landscapology HQ I encounted all the examples shown here.
Looking at the images, I think it’s pretty easy to see why the frangipani is such a crowd pleaser.
Firstly there’s the scale:
Sure they start off looking like a stick in the ground (which is pretty much what they are) but given time and half a chance, frangipanis grow into magnificent trees from 5 to 8 metres tall, making them perfect for residential gardens.
Secondly, there’s the form:
Frangipanis have the triple threat of a wonderfully sculptural trunk and branches, a perfectly rounded canopy, and elegantly pointed leaves.
They’re tough critters, often thriving on neglect, and in less than ideal conditions. You often see them happily blooming away in an untended backyard, or, in the case seen below, next to a bunch of air conditioning equipment.
They’re versatile. Frangipanis can be grown as a stunning single specimen tree, grouped to create the perfect picnic setting, or even planted close together to create a tall, shady grove. They create a lovely pool of shade in summer, and, if you choose a deciduous specimen, a welcome patch of winter sun.
But finally, when it all comes down to it, the flower is the frangipani’s knock-out killer punch.
From white to pale pink, yellow, orange and deepest cerise, the frangipani flower is a five-petalled, unfurling and twirling piece of pure delight.
People young and old will stop to pick up a frangipani flower from the ground like they do with no other tree: the scent of a good ‘un will put an easy smile on the grouchiest face.
Frangipanis (Plumeria) originated in Central and South America, so they generally go gangbusters in Brisbane’s subtropical conditions. To keep your tree healthy, and it set it on track for a long life, try to grow it in well-drained soil in the full sun. Established trees don’t usually need supplemental watering, but give them a drink while they’re establishing. They respond well to fertilizing during the growing season, with something high in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus – liquid seaweed or fishy solutions for example. They can be pruned, grown in pots, and easily grown from cuttings, a true garden superstar.
So…is the frangipani Brisbane’s favourite summer tree?
The votes are in, and the answer is a resounding yes!
Now it’s over to you.
Are you a frangipani fan? If so, which camp are you in? White or coloured flowers? Evergreen or deciduous? If you don’t have one at home, what’s your favourite specimen – the one you keep an eye out for every year?
I’d love to know – drop a line in the comments below.
Of course if you know anyone who’d enjoy this article, please feel free to share. There will be more from the wonderful world of landscape, architecture and design next week.
All images © Amalie Wright.