Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Plumeria Redux

We saw some wonderful plumeria in Australia, and throughout Asia, and we thought they were pretty big.  Cambodia was thick with them, where they are known as frangipani (side note—our spell check recognizes ‘frangipani’ but not ‘plumeria’). When we reached Laos, we realized we hadn’t even begun to see large plumeria.
The palace compound in Phnom Penh was filled with old plumeria, often 2-3 stories tall.  Lots of pinks and white-yellow blossoms.
In Siem Reap, the Royal Gardens were lined with plumeria.  There was an entire quarter of the park where two different trees had been planted next to each other, and had grown up to intertwine.  The pairs were clearly chosen for complimentary blossom colors.  It was a beautiful effect.
But it was in Laos, in Luang Prabang, where we saw our first plumeria forest.  This photo doesn’t do justice.  The entire hillside of Mount Phousi was dominated by plumeria; some young, many ancient.  Nearly every tree visible above or below are plumeria.   The stairs in the photo below lead up to the left of the path in the photo above.  There weren’t a lot of blossoms when we arrived, but it still smelled amazing.
The new branches emerging from this old trunk  are roughly the diameter of a broom handle; many of the trees had much larger trunks than this.
At the  base of this tree, to the left of the trunk, you can just see a woman’s head and shoulders.  The trunk is at least 3 feet wide.
These blossoms are in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Fortunately for us, they were reasonably short trees, which allowed us to see the flowers much more clearly.
The plumeria above is at the Monastere de St. Jean Baptiste, in the Montagne de Ambre region of Madagascar; the nuns there maintained beautiful gardens.  We also saw plumeria in the south of the island, in the Isalo region.
Both of these are in Aswan, Egypt.  The blossom above was in the amazing gardens of Kitchener Island, where Lord Kitchener assembled a large collection of plants from around the world.  The plumeria below was on the grounds of the Old Cataract hotel, in Aswan. 
We saw plumeria in Cairo as well, but they were the last we saw until we returned to the US.  We’d grown used to seeing them regularly after we left South America, and we definitely missed them for the remainder of our trip.