the flame


In our font yard there is a magnificent tree.




It's an Illawarra Flame Tree. I remember it blooming only a couple of times in my life, but when it does, it is spectacular. The leaves all fall off and it's covered in dense red blooms, it's a bit magic. 

Last week the milk truck hit the tree. I was in the study which has a window looking out the front, and I saw it happen, it made a massive noise. I saw the whole enormous tree twist. I wondered for a second if the hit was fatal, then remembered the enormous ENORMOUS root system this old tree must have under the ground. 

The milk truck (delivering the milk we use to make our custard and yoghurt and the cream for butter and  ghee) was injured. The driver was out, inspecting the damage when I got out there, there were bits of the truck on the ground, and a huge injury in that low hanging branch you can see off to the left. 

The next day I told Dad, I know this tree is significant to him too and we would all be somewhat less without it. A slow smile spread over his face. I was very alarmed. 

"Maybe now it'll bloom," he said. 


"The last time it bloomed was ten years ago, after I rammed it with the tractor. On purpose."

"You did not," I said.

He took me out and showed me the mark on the trunk where he'd run the tractor into it a decade ago. The following spring it had come into bloom. We still have the photos. 

And two days later, guess what happened? 





The next time the milk truck drove in I rushed out to thank him. I think he thinks I'm an idiot. Truly. Following him into the kitchen rabbiting on about trees in bloom and thanking him and how exciting, and obviously I don't get out enough, he backed out of the commercial kitchen as fast as he could. 

An Illawarra Flame, according to my Dad, will bloom when it feels threatened, usually when a branch of a taller canopy tree falls on it. 

Bloom, Flame, bloom. 




We're watching.




8 Comments on “the flame

September 4, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Is the tree known as the bloomin’ Illawarra Flame Tree or the Flamin’ Illawarra Tree? :)Hope the colour strikes against the blue of the sky. Xx

Aunt Narelle
September 5, 2014 at 8:19 am

Fiona, your grandfather planted this tree approx.70years ago.

September 30, 2014 at 7:17 am

Watching this space…

And love to you all!

October 18, 2014 at 11:47 pm

I’ll have to remember this if there’s any trees I want to get going! I’m not sure I should try it with my tiny but recalcitrant cherry tree though!

October 19, 2014 at 6:51 pm

I’m so very happy to have found you! Looking forward to back-reading!

July 23, 2018 at 8:24 pm

Wow, that is a beautiful tree and what a great story! Thank you for sharing. Best wishes, Wendy (NZ)

Fiona Walmsley
July 24, 2018 at 2:18 am

Thanks Wendy!

Jon Suffolk
August 11, 2020 at 1:50 am

Hi Fiona, I have collected some seeds from a tree in the grounds I am working at. They are bright yellow and I am trying to germinate and grow some to give away. My research suggests that they flower best after long dry periods which was definitely the case with these two trees.


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