Thursday, July 22, 2010
Flower of the South
Driving around the last few weeks, I couldn't help but notice the explosion of color from the glorious Crape Myrtles. They are literally in every nook and cranny whether it be an island in the Publix parking lot or growing wild along the highway. I think the Crape Myrtle is sometimes taken for granted and overlooked. All summer long they grace us with massive, colorful blooms yet we drive right by not even noticing their exotic display.
Although native to southeast Asia, Crape Myrtles were first introduced to South Carolina in the late 1700's by French botanist Andre Michaux. Since then, they have become known as "The Flower of the South." They grow best in Zones 7-9 and prefer full sunlight and acidic soil. You will see the Crape Myrtle display flowers in an array of colors such as white, lavender, bright pink, light pink and red. After a long blooming season, they give a beautiful show of fall foliage and in winter, you get to fully appreciate their artistic multi-trunk form. When the Crape Myrtle reaches full maturity she will surprise you again by shedding her bark to reveal beautiful shades of cream, tan, cinnamon and gray.
Now there's one topic that is common here in the South regarding Crape Myrtles and that is something many people refer to as "Crape Murder." "Crape Murder," in simple terms, is the act of severely pruning the tree back to almost nothing in hopes to encourage larger blooms. I'm here to tell you, step away from the pruning shears. Let Miss Myrtle do her thing and she'll thank you in return with year-round interest and graceful, arching branches. For more pruning tips and guided illustrations, visit Wilson Bros Nursery online.
I'm no garden expert, but anything (or anyone for that matter) that can look that gorgeous and effortless in the height of summer in the South gets a nod from me. When all my annuals are dying off because I've missed a few days of watering, I gain a new appreciation for those blooms that make it look so effortless. No wonder Miss Myrtle is affectionately referred to as "The Flower of the South."
Your Southern Peach