I know what you're thinking: A gardener in USDA zone 5 has no business posting about a plant that's only hardy in zones 6-10! I hope you'll forgive me for breaking the rules again. This month I'm highlighting a plant that doesn't, and probably shouldn't, grow in my garden.
But I got such a kick out of the Crape Myrtles growing all over the place in Branson, Mo., when we vacationed there in June. They were all around town, and seemed to be the signature plant/shrub/tree at the resort where we stayed. It seemed to have just about every size, shape, and color of Crape Myrtle available.
Different sources spell the name differently—Crape Myrtle, Crepe Myrtle, Crapemyrtle—but I'm going with the spelling I found on the USDA site. I seem to remember seeing Crape Myrtles on trips to Texas, Louisiana, and other points south, but never so many of them planted all in one small area.
The blooms are unique with their crinkly petals.
And the fruits are equally fascinating.
They look great planted with ornamental grasses and other landscape plants, and they compliment hardscape focal points like bridges, pathways, and fountains.
I have to be clear that I don't plan on planting any Crape Myrtles in my northern garden. But if I lived in Texas or Missouri, or another southern or middle-range state, I might think about it. While they're not native to the U.S. (they originated in China and Korea) they fill an ornamental landscaping niche similar to our Lilacs here in the north.
Some other interesting facts about Crape Myrtles, all gathered from the USDA and the U.S. National Arboretum:
- They're drought-tolerant, which most U.S. gardeners can appreciate this year;
- They bloom from spring through summer;
- Their fall foliage apparently (although I've never seen it) is quite lovely; and
- The bark has a variegated, mottled appearance (sorry, I didn't get any bark photos).
Plus, they're simply beautiful, fascinating plants. (Be sure to visit Elephant's Eye for the Dozen for Diana meme!)