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Canberra
Friday, May 14, 2021

‘Quite unusual’: local woman surprised as frangipanis bloom in her backyard

Canberra’s cool climate is usually unforgiving on tropical plants and flowers, but one local woman has a hint of the tropics flowering in her backyard.

Local resident Cathy Oswald has been growing her frangipani trees for over eight years and they have finally bloomed.

“I was really surprised.” she said.

“About six weeks ago I could tell they were going to get flowers … We must have had the right weather this year.”

Often found in warm, coastal climates such as Sydney and Queensland, frangipanis are an iconic tropical tree that can grow up to eight metres tall. According to CW gardening columnist, horticulturist Tracey Bool, the flowers usually struggle to grow in Canberra due to the cooler conditions.

Classic white frangipanis
Ms Oswald has the classic white frangipani trees potted in her backyard as well as a rich crimson.

“They are used to a warmer environment and warmer conditions. They are a good coastal plant. It’s just not the right climate in Canberra but people do have some success,” she said.

“It would bloom here if it were getting enough sunlight and not getting frost. You need to keep it protected.”

Ms Oswald has several frangipani trees potted in her backyard, including the classic white variety as well as a rich crimson. Coming from sunny Adelaide, she has always loved the flowers and said she purchased some of the trees from nurseries and grew others from cuttings.

“My son lives at Lennox Head. When I was up there, I asked his landlord if I could have a bit of the frangipani. So, he broke me off some bits and I wasn’t sure they were going to grow.”

For those wanting to grow frangipanis in Canberra, Ms Bool said the best thing to do is to bring the plant indoors “to well-lit areas in the cooler months before moving outdoors once risk of frost has passed.”

Ms Oswald has always taken extra care during winter, bringing the trees inside to protect them from the frost, but said this is the first summer they have bloomed for her in Canberra.

“For them to flower seems quite unusual,” she said.

“I wish they would flower all the time … I don’t know if it will ever happen again.”

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