It’s finally getting a bit warmer and I am very much looking forward to spending some quality time outdoors (and I don’t just mean cleaning up from the brutal winter). It’s a pleasure to thumb through all the garden and seed catalogs but I’m always looking for something I don’t find too readily up north and that is Lagerstroemia indica, also known as crape myrtle (an alternative spelling is crepe myrtle).
When I was growing up in Alabama, my maternal grandmother’s front yard was filled with pale lavender crape myrtle and I was always fascinated by the long summer show her crapes put on, but I don’t come across them too often up here. I miss them and am thinking of planting a single large white one at the front of the red barn.
Originally from Asia, the crape myrtle has been cultivated as far north as Massachusetts and was first introduced in the US and England in the 18th century.
The crape myrtle is deciduous and comes in varieties that grow from 18 inches to 40 feet! The flowers are big exhibitionists as they show off in blowsy, ruffly clusters lasting from 60 to 120 days, making them one of the longest blooming trees in existence. Colors range from white, lavender and purple to numerous shades of pink as well as a deep red often called “Rocket Red.”
So if you are looking for a beautiful ornamental that can be either a shrub or tree, consider the versatile, brilliant and rustic chic crape myrtle. Here’s a few examples.
An excellent source (and from which some of these photos came) for crape myrtle and other landscaping shrubs and trees can be found by visiting www.BrighterBlooms.com, an online nursery.