My afternoon walk passes this tree and many others in Bellbowrie, Brisbane. Yesterday, I was drawn by its brush petals and the low humming of the bees so I entered the lower leaves and stood undercover. The tree is called cadaga or cadaghi gum which the Brisbane City Council has declared a weed. The exhilarating thing about the moment was, the bees were humming all around me without attacking me and enjoying the sweet nectar. Above me the birds were enjoying the same sweetness and singing on top of their voices. I don’t know why we need to cut these trees when so much is dependant on them. These photos were taken by my iPhone, so I hope the quality is enough for you to see the bees.
About three years ago, I bought this small plant about eight inches tall from an eighty year old man in Moggill markets, Queensland. This market has now moved away from the vicinity of Bellowrie to a nearby suburb.
This plant did not have any flowers, but the old man told me, it will have these bell-looking flowers that the birds love. He called it a bush. My cousin Marina, a horticulturist, gave me a yellow species of the same plant. She told me the plant would be huge and I need a large space at least three cubic metres for it. When I showed her the old man’s plant, she said the two were exactly the same, the yellow-flowered one she gave me and this orange one. The orange one took almost a year to grow up to a metre or so and flowered.
My yellow plant is still about a metre tall and because I placed in a spacious spot, it has not grown into other plants. This orange bush is now branching into the chook coop and the passion a pepper tree, because I planted it before I got the horticulturist’s advice.
The orange plant needs pruning several times a year, and the plant, which I can never remember the name, (I’m sorry) provides an abundance of bird food. Daily, many little birds come to enjoy its petals, and I’m grateful to the old gardener who sold me the plant. I also love its colours.
I don’t usually plant these dainty little pansies (above) and petunias (second one below). It was my mother’s idea while she has been here in Brisbane. The flower below is an air plant, from the orchid family which I plant and this spring, I have had a large collection of flowers.
When I see the other colours that my mother brought to my somewhat ‘tough’ garden of succulents, bromeliads and other arid plants, it makes me smile. The colours make the gardens look like beautiful paintings. Their dainty little petals look like delicate bouquets that add a fresh softness to the garden.
Under the leaves of the double (petal) fuchsia hibiscus is where the butterflies sleep. The withered hibiscus leaves dying and hanging, provide the perfect camouflage for the butterflies. If light does not reflect on their folding wings or their shimmering patterns, you just don’t know – that is where the butterflies sleep after dark.
How did I know this? I was helping my mother late one evening to prune these beautiful hibiscus bushes and I saw the butterflies. There were lots of them under the leaves – hanging upside down like the flying foxes. As soon as light arrived the next morning, I went to check and the butterflies had gone.
My gorgeous niece Marcelle Bucher turned 18 on the 4th of March. I have known Marcelle from birth and she is second daughter of my friends Erue and Daniel Bucher. Marcelle’s mother Erue is Papua New Guinean and father Daniel is Swiss. You could say, Marcelle is a daughter I did not give birth to, but lucky enough to have. She is articulate, intuitive, very clever and creative. She is currently doing International Studies in University of Queensland. She speaks several languages and will conquer the world when she graduates. At 17, she left Australia to travel Europe alone and returned after Christmas. I think she just wanted to ‘sus’ Europe out, just to see if Europe is ready for Marcelle.
On her return, Marcelle wanted a Bahamas party for her 18th with lots of colour and tropical scenes. Everyone wanted leis, but the frangipani season had just ended. As she had wished, we set up her sister Livu’s place to look like a small holiday nook in the Bahamas. A quick drive around Brisbane city with a visit to my own gardens gave us a small bucket-full of frangipani flowers, but just enough for me to make everyone a corsage. The party started to look ‘Pacificky’ – but it was pretty all the same. The reggae music kept it slightly different. And, the birthday lady received a lei.
How do you make a lei? Watch this YouTube video on how to make a flower lei.
The fragrant beauty of the frangipani always makes me homesick for Papua New Guinea. It also takes me across the ocean and the Pacific Islands. I am slowly building up my collection of frangipani in my garden in Brisbane and hope one day I could be surrounded by a variety of fragrances all year around. These are only three types out of the 12 different species I have.
The name frangipani came from an Italian perfume made to scent gloves in the 16th Century; the maker was called Marquis Frangipani. The scientific name for these beauties is Plumeria (as known in America). The genus name, Plumeria, commemorates Charles Plumier, a seventeenth century French botanist. The flower is native to Central America, Venezuela and Mexico. And, it grows across the Pacific Islands, Asia and other tropical countries.
My star of Christmas is this beautiful bromeliad flower. It opened on Christmas day and already there is a feast on its delicate nectar. Bromeliads come from the pineapple family and can be grown all-year around. They originally came from the Americas. Read more on Gardening Australia.
I found another exotic mysterious plant in my pond – yes, in the pond and we have been here four years. I realised that since the water has almost dried out this spring, it has given the Jacobean or Aztec lily a chance to grow and flower.
Searching on the internet and asking friends about the beautiful red flower, I found this website with the information – mystery solved. Below is what they said:
As there is no need to say much about this beautiful lily apart from the fact that we have found them extremely easy to grow. Jacobean lilies grow very well in full sun. In Queensland, they tend to flower at all times of the year (in fact, there is very rarely a month without some flowering somewhere in the garden). Jacobean lilies do less well under trees but do survive and multiply and lastly they prefer to be in soil that drains freely. The Aztec lily is an absolute joy to have in the garden or in pots and are very companionable with other plants.
After the flowering, I have transferred the Jacobean lily to a nice dry sunny spot, hoping for more gorgeous flowers in the future.