Monday, December 19, 2016

Frangipani 'Serendipity'

Replacing a major plant in our garden always leads to a small series of what Pammy and I jokingly refer to as "committee meetings". In this case the vacancy was created by the demise of our Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' which was split into two floppy, despondent, sodden halves during a fierce storm a few months ago.

Since then the committee has met a few times, and eventually we decided a second frangipani would be the perfect choice for the spot, which is very close to our covered pergola, where we do all our summer entertaining. Cool shade and tropical fragrance in summer, lots of leafless light getting through in winter, the perfect size of small tree too, and an easy-care beauty that loves being in Sydney. Win, win, win, win, win!

But what kind of frangipani? What colour? Well, it turned out that Pammy found the perfect replacement by a process of serendipity, and here it is.

This isn't its official name, but I am thinking of this as Frangipani 'Serendipity'. 

Here's how Pammy found it: she opened a gate leading to a local art studio run by a ceramicist, Lisa (where Pam teaches painting), and there it was, in a pot, with a modest price tag on it. It was easily the nicest of a gaggle of about a dozen frangipanis Lisa's daughter had for sale, part of a fund-raising effort for her school. The plant itself was a cutting taken from the same coloured frangipani growing in the garden behind Lisa's art studio. Pammy texted me to say "I've found our frangipani" and later that day it was home at our place.

Here it is in all its shapely glory. With this start, our serendipitous find should grow into a beautifully shaped small tree over the next decade or so. 

Now, 'Serendipity' is one of my favourite words because of the story behind its meaning. The word itself was invented by Horace Walpole in 1754 (says my Oxford Dictionary), in his story "The Three Princes of Serendip". Now, Serendip was the old name of Sri Lanka (in between it was Columbo) and the meaning of serendipity is the "faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident." Walpole was thinking that coming across Serendip was a delightful discovery, and all of my friends who have visited Sri Lanka assure me he was right — it truly is a delightful place, when it's at peace with itself.

A much less happy tale is the demise of our poor old grevillea. The storm split it in two at the base, and it slowly died off over the next few months. It had been the frame for wearing our ever-growing tresses of Spanish moss, and eventually, a few years from now, we hope our new frangipani will do the same job. Pictured here is the sad sight today, with the bare branches held up by props. 

So, in the meantime, my first task is to redistribute all the Spanish moss evenly amongst our other backyard trees: a lime, a lemon, an olive and our other frangipani. Then it'll be a chore to dig out the grevillea, and finally a pleasure to plant out Frangipani 'Serendipity'.

Pammy loves our existing frangipani tree, which also has a similar history to our new one, in that the cutting comes from a friend, Krissy's, garden. Krissy is a former workmate of mine, and is the sister of another workmate and Pam's music-loving pal, Zora, so it's a tree with a close, personal connection that is important to us both. Our new frangipani comes from Lisa's studio where Pam has spent many many hours teaching art courses. So both our frangipanis have a special, personal history (which is why growing and sharing plants from cuttings is a beautiful way to enjoy a garden full of living memories). 

Of course Zora & Krissy's frangipani is an el-classico yellow and white one, while Lisa's frangipani has a blush of pink, as well as yellow and white ... 

... and both of them will look lovely on a rainy morning ...

... and both will smell tropically divine on a sunny day.


Crooked Cottage said...

I love frangipanis! Unfortunately the one I planted from a cutting two years ago does not seem to have thrived - I need to move it I think so I am going to do that this winter.

Anonymous said...

Hi, what is the name of that lovely pink flowered shrub in the lot near the old grevilia ?

Jamie said...

That is New South Wales Christmas bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum). It's an Australian native shrub/small tree.