Saturday, March 27, 2010


The flowers of our first Plumeria tree.
This post is not about the glorious event celebrated every Easter Sunday.

On the contrary, the flower of this tree, Frangipani (Plumeria), is associated with death in my country of origin. It is traditionally the primary flower used in arrangements that someone usually brings as an offering to the deceased in wakes and burials.

The stigma it carries makes it an unpopular tree of choice in landscape designs. But my myopic view of this plant broadened as I got older and especially when I lived in another country.

In other regions of the world, particularly those in the Pacific islands (e.g., Hawaii), the flowers are used in making leis to welcome guests into their homes and for other festive events. It is offered to the living and not the dead.

Plumerias they have successfully propagated from cuttings.

As I was flipping pages of books on tropical gardens, looking for foliage to include in the garden we're developing, landscape photos of this plant just keep showing up. Its branch structure, leaf shape and texture, and of course the flowers, in smart combination with other plants, perfectly fits the design I was aiming for.

And so we began with just a single tree. We bought one that was just about 4 feet tall. Not satisfied with one, we bought five more a few months later. And then they politely asked for small cuttings from those who have Plumeria around the area. From the ten (approx. 12 in. long) cuttings, seven survived and are now over 2 feet tall.

In less than a year since we bought our first tree, it is now over 6 feet tall, and along with the five other trees, they are now strategically planted in different areas of the garden.

My impression of the Plumeria has come a long way. From death to life, it's truly a resurrection for this plant.