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Gardening in America
Crepe Myrtle

by Nancy Fletcher

Crepe MyrtleCrepe Myrtle has been called “tough and beautiful.”  It is my opinion this is, indeed true. The temperature here has been around 102 degrees in northern Oklahoma during this August 2003. This is no challenge at all to our Crepe Myrtles.  Watering is the only way to keep the landscape half way green. But, those hardy Crepe Myrtle bloom their loveliest at this time.  Huge clusters of pinks, whites, dark pink and even darker wine reds are just breathtaking. Of course, if they are watered the bush only becomes  richer in color with even larger flowers. The ruffled edges of the small bursts crowd in with many like it and become one large flirty costume of radiance.

If the bush is planted on the south side of the house it will eventually become like a small tree but, also putting out many side branches. Once, long ago, a sister-in-law, now  lost to the family through divorce, showed me how to prune them. One simply snips off the ends of the branches at the close of summer. The next year two blooms appear instead of one and the “tree” becomes even more showy.

Because we do have a very complete freeze in some winters we planted one by the bird bath. Daily washing of the bird bath runs the water off to the plant and it has thrived.  Also, the bird bath is a stack of rocks. In this way the ground is warmed in the winter from the sun striking the rock and transfering the heat to the soil at night. So far,  we haven't lost this bush to a winter freeze as has happened before.

There are two planted off a deck and they provide quick growth and shade for a place like this also. Plus,  the lovely bloom is an added pleasure when one is sitting on the deck. This is also a nice place to entertain   guests since the plants give so much to the background.

Cut flowers make stunning arrangements for the vase in the house also. They make great hospital gifts, arrangements for showers, or any other occasion. It is my opinion one cannot plant too many of them.

One of our fondest memories of the tall bushes was down both sides of the drive at a house in Texas. It was by far a more striking drive than that of the one close to it which was used in the series called, “Dallas.”  The home owner told me the plants had been dug up from the drive at their farm home before they sold the house in order to move closer to town.  They transplanted them to the drive in their new home and not one bush died.  While others in the new housing district were devoid of trees and bushes here was this lovely drive lined with blooming Crepe Myrtles leading up to our neighbors house. It was such a pleasure to see them, especially since they were only two houses away from ours.

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