Crepe myrtle blooms in heat
Sep 10, 2011 | 1308 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By Donna Seeley

Garden Guide

I was never very impressed with the shrub crepe or crape myrtle. It was colorful in late summer when nothing much else was in bloom, but even the colors were lack-luster, I thought.  I doubt they were very hardy then, also.

We built a Dairy Queen in Meridian,  Miss., in 1955 and moved there to run it. Believe me, it was a big undertaking for us and three kids. My father said to me, "Daughter, you cannot make it in the Deep South; you are too outspoken." But I liked Meridian, and loved gardening there. It was a lovely city of 50,000 kind southerners; our friends thought Don, born just a mile from me, was a native and I, with Arkansas relatives, a Yankee.

We bought a house across from the park and two blocks from the mental hospital. With our kids soon to be teenagers, I wanted to be within walking distance of help. Fortunately, my only trip there was to see the state's largest crepe myrtle. It was humongous, and in full bloom. All over town it was in bloom. Soon after returning home, I began to see more here as they worked on improving the strains.

Crepe is woody in nature, and grows from 1 foot to 100 feet. I seldom see the multi-trunked ones, bare up to 5 to 6 feet, but they are very effective on a lawn. I bought one 10 years ago, but I planted it in a spot now shaded by a hawthorn tree and it doesn't get near the sun it needs. I should have moved it years ago, and now I would be enjoying its panicles of purple, crinkled blooms. Colors vary from deep wines and reds to white.

I found it interesting to learn that the timber from these trees has been used to build bridges and furniture. Myrtle came from China and Korea and was introduced in 1790 in Charleston, S.C., by French botanist Andre  Michaux. It is common in south France, Italy and south of Zone 6 (that's us) in the U.S. I would like to disagree with the article I  read, since we all know we've been growing this plant for years, though we might have too much humidity for the best blooms.

I can't think of any shrub we enjoy more this time of year than the dwarf crepe myrtle. A row of it on the front of a flower bed is very attractive.

It's been a long time since I've seen our town look so down-at-the-heels. Dead grass, dead trees. I went by the new bed at 32nd and Main and saw the evergreens, now brown, and felt sad, but I am not blaming anyone. I doubt if they are the victims of lack of water, but the life was baked out of them. The weather we have had does not inspire one to do much, even if it's just stand and hold a hose.

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