FALLBROOK – Residents are likely to notice the three, newly-planted Dombeya wallichii trees in bloom along South Mission Road. The plump pink clusters of fragrant pink balls that dangle beneath large velvety leaves are a new addition to the South Mission medians, courtesy of the Fallbrook Beautification Alliance, and the hard work of resident Pat McDougal.
The trees, whose flowers resemble a hydrangea blossom, are a native of Madagascar and East Africa, and grow well in Fallbrook’s USDA Zone 9 and 10 climates.
This beautiful tree, also known as the Tropical Hydrangea or Pink Ball Tree, can grow to approximately 20 feet, yet responds well to pruning to keep to an easily-managed size.
The three trees were added to the medians to replace a number of oak trees, which had recently succumbed to damage caused by the Oak Borer Beetle. This beetle and larvae are damaging oak trees throughout the region.
The Dombeya trees love full sun, and will tolerate a mix of soil types, making it an ideal pick for Fallbrook’s medians.
Pat McDougal started the Dombeya wallichii trees from cuttings from one of her own trees, and nursed them along for the past two years. She transplanted them two weeks ago with the assistance of Andres Oliveros, who manages the crew that maintains the mile long Mission Median flower beds.
Oliveros and his crew are out on the medians every Sunday, weeding, pruning and replanting, and sometimes even cleaning up after accidents that damage plants and irrigation. The blooms of the Dombeya hang from a foot long stem and are 5-6″ in diameter, positioned beneath its heart shaped leaves.
“You can prune this tree as you want to, to keep its size in check,” said McDougal, “which is why I chose this tree for the median. It has been reported that the blooms have a smell like birthday cake or cake batter, wow, now wouldn’t that be yummy!” The Mission medians are one of the many landscape and beautification projects initiated and maintained by the Fallbrook Beautification Alliance, a non-profit volunteer organization whose funding comes from private donation, sponsorships and proceeds from their annual July 4 celebration held at the Grand Tradition. Learn more about the FBA, and ways to become a sponsor of the Mission medians or other FBA projects, at www.fallbrookbeautification.org.