Is the Frangipani Brisbane’s Favourite Summer Tree?

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. 

I Don't Like Flowers. Can I Still Have a Garden?

If you saw the story on the Garfield Park Conservatory City Garden in Chicago, you couldn’t have failed to notice the riot of spring flowers erupting at every turn. 

Flowers are all around us; helping plants (and people!) get their groove on.

I remember being sent two dozen new season peonies once, by a lovely man who looked exactly like Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.  Actually, no, that never happened. Focus, Landscapology.

But what happens if you’re not that keen on flowers?

I don’t mean if you have sinus-shattering allergies, or you break out in hives if you come within cooee of a chrysanthemum. I mean what if you just plain don’t like ‘em, can’t stand ‘em, and don’t want them in your park or garden?

Does it mean you’re a bad person, willfully denying yourself and others oceans of horticultural pleasure? 

No, of course not!

What is does mean though, is that you’ll have to be a whole lot more selective when choosing plants.

There are two types of plants available to you.

The first are the true non-flowering ones. Whilst nearly all plants use flowers to help them beget more plants, some ancient plant families do not use flower power at all.

Mosses are flowerless plants that are incredibly beautiful, but often overlooked. Worse, they are sometimes dismissed as undesirable, and blasted out of their quiet lives in wall and paving joints, or under trees. I have quite a thing for moss, and can't resist patting its velvety verdure whenever given the chance. If mosses thrive where you are, why not embrace their delicate beauty.

The original 'green wall': moss cascades down a rock face at Fallingwater in Pennsylvania.

The original 'green wall': moss cascades down a rock face at Fallingwater in Pennsylvania.

Delicate filaments catch the light on top of this wall at the Medellin Botanic Gardens.

Delicate filaments catch the light on top of this wall at the Medellin Botanic Gardens.

Like mosses, ferns do not have flowers, but reproduce using spores.

From the delicate fronds of this hanging fern...

From the delicate fronds of this hanging fern... the tough leaves of the birds nest. the tough leaves of the birds nest.

Conifers are also plants that do not have flowers. In Australia, the kauri, huon, hoop and bunya pines are just a few of the conifers that reproduce using seeds rather than flowers.

The unmistakable form of the mighty Bunya Pine.

The unmistakable form of the mighty Bunya Pine.

The second type of plants increases the options considerably, but may not be strictly by-the-book for the botanical and horticultural purists amongst us. Just so you know.

Included here are those that produce very insignificant flowers, flowers that ‘don’t look like flowers’, or those that flower incredibly infrequently.

The following represents just a tiny selection of plants in this category.

Palms are grown for their foliage rather than their tiny flowers. When they do get around to it, some palms also bloom only once, at the end of their lives. 

Grasses have fine foliage in a range of colours and textures, and many have feathery flowers that ‘don’t look like flowers’, helping you get around your self-imposed flower ban.

Many succulents have tiny flowers, or a very short bloom time. (Some are totally OTT though, so choose carefully). 

Agaves are succulents that grow for years and flower but once, in a spectacular vertical eruption that is not for the faint-hearted. Following this the plant dies. Until then they are sculptural, hardy, and flower-free. 

Culinary herbs all produce flowers. During the growing season we usually want to encourage the production of more aromatic foliage by pinching out any flower buds as they emerge. At the end of the season you can avert your eyes, let the plants flower, then look back in time for them to go to seed and pop off the twig. 

Finally, the composition of different types of foliage plants can produce incredible results. Tightly clipped hedges form the structure of the Green Dock at Thames Barrier Park. Whilst some flowering plants do make an appearance, it is the grasses and foliage plants of many forms and colours that are the main attraction. 

Similarly at Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord, hedges form an important part of this garden, but so do the rampant climbers displaying their look-at-me seasonal colour change. 

But you know better than me!

Wherever you are in Australia or around the world, what plants would you suggest for our anti-flower friends out there? If you're a flower-averse reader we'd love to hear from you too!

Share the love in the comments section. Of course if you know someone else who’d enjoy this story, be sure to pass it along, and to check back soon for more landscape inspiration.