Thursday, February 17, 2011

Frangipani Frenzy

At this time of year the backyards of Mosman are filled with frangipanis, those glorious tropical looking bushes and trees with blossoms and a perfume that immediately transport me to a topical island, think Paul Gauguin and his pictures of dusky maidens with frangipanis tucked behind their ears.

I love frangipani blossoms and find myself collecting fallen ones from the pavements to float in bowls around the house. Elle Decoration, eat your heart out, I can highly recommend floating frangipanis juxtaposed against piles of unsorted washing and a sleeping dog having an illicit nap on the sofa, as a good look for a house.

However my attraction towards frangipanis is tinged with a certain amount of bitterness. I have had two attempts at establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with a frangipani – gave it room to grow, love and nourishment – though admittedly the latter was of the remains of cold cups of tea and coffee variety and the result has been Catriona Nil, Frangipanis 2 in terms of a battle to the death.

Frangipanis are not my only failure. The mini orchid I bought at Christmas in an attempt to create the air of an expensive resort hotel within the family bathroom, was looking decidedly sad by New Year and is now an interesting stick with a pair of sickly looking leaves attached.

One of the downsides of frangipanis aside from their strange fragility under my tender care, is that when not in leaf and bloom, they revert to looking like a bunch of dead fingers protruding from the earth, and protruding is a good word in this context as these are tuber, sausage like fingers, not delicate, stick like digits.

I am, however, not one to shirk from the challenge and acting on the assumption of third time lucky, I have bought myself a beautiful pink frangipani in a large pot. Keen to maintain its interest in life I lent it to a friend for her leaving party on Day 1. An active social life obviously agrees with the thing as a month later it is still blooming away and is even producing new blossoms. Percy Thrower, and the current BBC Radio 4 team, move over there’s a new contender in the running for ‘Gardeners’ Question Time.’

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