The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

Ionce had a friend in Africa (sounds a bit Karen Blixen), who grew up for some of her time there in Mom­basa on the coast of Kenya and the cap­i­tal Nairobi.

Af­ter a week at school in Nairobi she trav­elled the long train jour­ney to be with her gran in Mom­basa for the oc­ca­sional week­end and school hol­i­days.

When I asked what it was most she re­mem­bered of or liked about her time in Kenya, her im­me­di­ate an­swer was frangi­pani. As if I had to ask.

Her gran lived on the beach and kept her ter­ri­to­ri­als as or­ganic as she could as fenc­ing was not one of her great landscape en­joy­ments. But she also had a need to keep out the odd wan­der­ing beast or two. In­stead of a fence fac­ing the sea she planted rows of frangi­pani.

As a tes­ti­mony to her char­ac­ter and the need to be re­source­ful, use­ful and in­ter­est­ing, she planted long 1.5m sticks of all colours and hues of the plant. Not straight up and down, but on an an­gle of about 45 de­grees.

Each was placed al­most a me­tre apart to form an X. This went on with a row in front of the last un­til she had a hedge of frangi­pani sticks, that would even­tu­ally fill up with leaves, and later, plenty of flower. The close­ness of the plant­ing also helped keep out some an­i­mals.

The plants sel­dom needed wa­ter once they were up and run­ning, and hardly ever saw a bag of fer­tiliser. The sand was the catch. Maybe the sea air that was laden with salt might have had some in­flu­ence also. The flow­ers and per­fume were lodged into the ol­fac­tory mech­a­nism in the brain, that years later, when­ever she got a whiff of a frangi­pani she im­me­di­ately saw her gran’s house by the sea.

There are a cou­ple of things at play here and one is the ef­fect of first ex­pe­ri­ences of smell as a ther­apy and its mem­ory trig­ger. The other is that frangi­pani is like a gar­den pet that gives all, in re­turn ex­cept for a lit­tle love.

The ev­er­green frangi­pani (of­ten called Sin­ga­pore White) is our eas­i­est to grow and has some re­sis­tance to the scourge of rust. There are re­cent crosses be­tween the ham­mer­head frangi­pani and the ev­er­green that are al­most rust re­sis­tant. It’s the older gnarled F.rubra va­ri­eties that are badly af­fected by rust.

Apart from vig­i­lant man­age­ment of rust (re­mov­ing and clean­ing up leaves, spray­ing tips with chilli spray in the dry etc.), they say a 500mm spray bot­tle of wa­ter with a cou­ple of Asprin can help. That is of­ten a big call for a large tree. Or­ganic fer­tiliser such as blood and bone around the drip line at least twice a year of­ten helps nour­ish the tree and build its re­sis­tance to rust in­va­sion.

The ‘X’ planted hedge of frangi­pani is an oldie but goodie or some­thing that is old is new again and worth a try if you are look­ing to do some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent.

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