Monday, March 29, 2010

a word about Crape Murder

I saw something on my street this weekend that I’ve seen hundreds of times before, and it still gets me every time; someone cut their Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia spp.) trees almost to the ground. Maybe murder is too strong a word, since more often than not they come back very much alive. However, there is no need for this plant cruelty and aesthetic nightmare.

Some people feel this is the best way to maintain these trees. Other Crape murderers feel they bloom better with this treatment. Conversely, with proper (sometimes yearly) pruning, a Crapemyrtle specimen can take on the loveliest of forms. And with time, your Crapemyrtle branches will develop into the most wonderful example of mottled bark you have ever seen (see photo). Here's a link to some helpful information regarding proper pruning techniques for Crapemyrtles:

Crapemyrtles are wonderful small to medium-sized (15-25’ in height), non-native, summer-flowering, deciduous trees. They come in a variety of colors ranging from white to pink, to purple, to red, and every shade in between. Some varieties even have nice fall color on their fine textured foliage. Crapemyrtles come in a variety of shapes; more formal specimens have only a single trunk, others can be multi-trunked.

My favorite examples of this tree are in Georgia. The Founder’s Memorial Garden at The University of Georgia in Athens, and gardens throughout the Savannah/Charleston area immediately come to mind. This photo is a particularly old and refined specimen located at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C.

Dumbarton Oaks is a beautiful (once private, now public) garden to visit if you’re ever in the Georgetown area of D.C. It was designed by the first female landscape architect, Beatrix Jones Farrand, through the patronage of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss. It is a real gem!

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