The Gardens of Chiconia: The Frangipani’s Tale

Once upon a time in the Gardens of Chiconia, there was a dead stick.

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 8.39.15 AMIt had been cut off the old frangipani tree at the gate of old Chiconia before the tree was cut down by the evil neighbours because they wanted a nice concrete slab in its place.

The stick lay on a bench in the Gardens and dried out, its leaves dropped off and the cut sealed over. One day, it was stuck  hopefully into a nice blue ceramic tub with some nice potting soil and compost. It got a lot of encouraging chat, good drainage, worm tea and plenty of water

All around it, other plants were springing joyfully out of the ground.

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 8.37.21 AMDays, weeks and months passed. The dead stick watched the sun rise and set, watched weather dry and wet. Nothing much happened. Until one day, at the ends of the dead stick’s branches appeared little dark red pointy leaf buds. Great excitement ensued in the Kingdom of Chiconia.

The leaves came out… and fell off again when winter came. Once more, it was a dead stick.

Chiconia itself moved, and the stick in its blue ceramic tub came too. It travelled on the back of the trailer, its few leaves flapping in the wind, and there was some concern that it would not like the change or the bumpy ride, or the flapping.

But the stick loved its new home. It put out more and more leaves, bigger, shinier and better leaves. And one day, there were Other Buds.

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 8.31.45 AM

And they grew.

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 8.30.30 AMAnd they grew.

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 8.30.46 AMAnd the dead stick was transformed into a beautiful frangipani, with fabulous pink and gold flowers and a marvellous scent.

And the moral of this tale is: if you have a frangipani dead stick, don’t lose hope. It’s just waiting for the time to be right.


30 thoughts on “The Gardens of Chiconia: The Frangipani’s Tale

  1. EllaDee says:

    Excellent story! Aren’t frangipanis a wonder. The G.O. already had 2 in our yard but I couldn’t resist a getting a stick for a third when my aunt & uncle were removing their trees. I love the colours, whether classic or bright and the subtle fragrance. I’d like more but my wish-list of trees & shrubs is bigger than available space.

    • katechiconi says:

      Conversely, I have loads of space and nothing much to fill it, having coming from a tiny back yard I’d made beautiful but had to leave. We do, however, have plans once the weather has cooled down enough to make working out there tolerable. But your comment makes me wonder: why do people cut down big old frangipanis, when they’re so lovely?

      • EllaDee says:

        In my aunt’s case it was because they were in the way of the ride on lawn mower!
        Our neighbours have a thing where they say they don’t like trees near the house for safety & security reasons… but really it’s because they impede their view of the neighbourhood. Then they complain about noise and how hot their house is…

      • katechiconi says:

        When I first came to Australia, I was amazed at how many houses stood alone in the hot sunshine without a scrap of vegetation nearby to offer shade. Then I learned about bushfires and the need to keep potential fuel away from the house. But people who live in cities have no real reason to avoid trees near the house, and cutting them down is just an act of vandalism. Pruning and management is one thing, hacking down willy nilly is another. It amazes me how short sighted many people are….

  2. Cape Town is full of frangipanis. The scent is one of my favourites.

    • katechiconi says:

      Mine too, second only to gardenia and closely followed by lilac! This city is full of them too, but I wanted to grow my own instead of buying one in a pot. All I have in this new garden is palm trees and nasty jungly bits, nothing nice!

  3. Jen Gardener says:

    What a clever frangipani! Love stories like this. Makes you proud, doesn’t it?

  4. I am green with envy . Frangipani is my all-time favourite shrub and scent, but they don’t grow here. I’m with you all the way about cutting down trees see my haiku and photo yesterday where the conseil municipale cut down three healthy spruces for no discernible reason.

    • katechiconi says:

      If you had a conservatory or greenhouse, could you grow it there in a tub? It would stay small, but my little stick is evidence they’ll flower in a tub and you’d have the scent in the summer. Councils are bloody vandals, and so are electricity companies. You should see the mess ours makes of the trees along the road…

  5. I am sure it was the encouraging chat that made all the difference.

  6. Nanette says:

    I have exactly the same coloured frangi, in a pot, that spent two years of it’s life as a stick also. They like to think carefully and long before committing to leaves and flowers. Mine is going in the ground soon, right at the bottom of the back stairs, to shade from the afternoon sun. Will you leave yours in the pot?

    • katechiconi says:

      Mine is going to be planted at the front of the house in one of the beds on either side of the drive. That way, we will get wafts of the scent through the open windows at night! But I’m going to let it get a bit bigger first. And I need to look around for another frangipani to take a cutting from, ideally a white one this time.

  7. tialys says:

    It’s certainly more beautiful than a concrete slab. What foolish neighbours you had – you’re well rid of them by the sounds of it.

  8. So pleased that it likes its new home… it really was worth the wait for those beautiful flowers.

    • katechiconi says:

      I love them for not only the flowers and perfume, but also the magic that turns a wrinkly dead stick with no roots or leaves into a fabulous, flourishing tree. It’s doing so well, and so are its younger brother and sister, that I’m determined to find some more cuttings and have another go. Perhaps I can have a frangipani grove!

  9. I love a story with a happy ending! Don’t think I have ever come across a frangipani so have no idea what the fragrance will be like so I shall imagine fresh marzipan (becuase the name is similar) with cherry blossom and vanilla!

    • katechiconi says:

      Oh, it’s so hard to describe a smell! A little gardenia, a little jasmine, perhaps a little orange blossom. It’s wonderful. I’m pretty sure you could grow them in coastal southern Spain; not in the mountains, they won’t survive frost unless you bring them inside the house in a pot.

  10. Kirsten says:

    This made me feel very emotional. Such a transformation from a poorly looking dead stick. I bet it smells amazing! Am very jealous.

    • katechiconi says:

      It smells just beautiful. And I love the trees for their sculptural shape and elegant leaves too, and the spiral shape of the flowers. They say ‘tropics’ to me like nothing else.

  11. Plants are soooo stong !!! and I always tell people not to give up on them easily as they sometimes need time to come back to life again

  12. pattisj says:

    I’m so glad the frangipani likes its new home!

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