- Author: Launa Herrmann
When our family moved from the Bay Area to Vacaville five years ago, I looked forward to warm fog-less summers sitting beside the swimming pool in our small backyard. But I found out that sitting is a rare occurrence since seven 20-year old Redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) and three Crape myrtles (Lagerstoemia indica) border the pool. When my husband and I aren't scooping out cones and needles, we're glaring at the myrtle trees bursting with aerodynamic blooms fit for the slightest breeze.
We determined that this year would be different. By late-July we hatched a plan to conquer the blossom drop. Before the petals started falling, we started pruning. One by one, flower clusters plopped onto the walkway. By day’s end our green-waste can sat at the curb like a stuffed Thanksgiving turkey. My husband and I sank into our faux wicker chairs with pretzels and cokes in hand. We grinned from ear to ear, thrilled that these skinny-dipping blossoms were history. Finally, time to relax.
“Hey, Honey, we'll have a clean pool for a couple months before the autumn winds shake down the dead redwood needles,” I told my husband.
Wrong. By Labor day, I was staring at Crape myrtle buds—again. In fact, they sprouted from every single cut our pruners had made and by mid-September the trees were thick with flowers. Oops, I had unknowingly coaxed a second bloom out of the trees. Next year we'll return to our usual once-a-year early spring pruning regime of removing the prior year’s seed capsules, enjoying the flower show—and putting up with the maddening scattering mess.
- Author: Kathy Thomas-Rico
The crape myrtles are blooming. Have you noticed? They’re pretty hard to miss, what with their beautiful blossoms in hot fuchsia, spicy red, pale lavender, pretty pink and clear white. These woody perennials thrive in Solano’s zones and offer year-round interest: peeling bark in winter and spring, blooms in summer, and fall leaf color.
I just stumbled across something I’d not realized about Lagerstroemia, the genus also known as crape myrtle. Not everyone spells it like that: CRAPE myrtle. Many spell it CREPE myrtle. Apparently, this is a long-running horticultural debate. Whether it’s spelled crape myrtle, crepe myrtle, crapemyrtle, crepemyrtle or crepe myrtles may simply be a geographical preference, or an evolution of language. In the U.S., the traditional Southern spelling is crepe myrtle (because the delicate flowers resemble crepe paper). Across the rest of the U.S. it is more commonly spelled crape myrtle, which is considered the French spelling. In Europe and Australia and other countries they use the scientific name, Lagerstroemia Crape Myrtle.
But I think my youngest child, Katie, has the best name for the shrubby little trees. As young as first grade, Katie noticed when Vacaville’s crape myrtles started to bloom. Knowing I love the beautiful colors, Katie would point them out: “Look, Mommy! The grape turtles are blooming!” Katie’s nearly 18 now and we still giggle when we notice summer’s explosion of crape myrtle blossoms.
Grape turtles indeed.
- Author: Mary B. Gabbard
Today’s my day to blog, and I’m at a bit of a loss. My son’s 19th birthday is today, and he’s away at school in New York. This is a first for our family-celebrating a birthday without the guest of honor! So how does this relate to a gardening blog? Well, when I think about planting, I typically think about planting for the season. Today, however, my thoughts are turned toward planting to remind us about special events in our lives. For instance, every fall, I look out my kitchen window and see a beautifully blooming Lagerstroemia indica (Crape Myrtle). This tree was a gift given to my husband in memory of his mom. I look forward to those purple blooms, but more importantly, as I look at that tree throughout the year, my mind is filled with fond memories of my mother-in-law and the times we spent together. Underneath my living room window, I am eagerly awaiting the beautiful blooms from my Camellia japonica, a gift given to me from my sister in memory of my father-in-law. So today, as my family celebrates Ben’s birthday, I will be deciding what to plant to remind me of my son and the change this signifies in our family. I’m thinking of something with strong beginnings in its framework with lots of potential for growth over the years. I already have the spot picked out in my yard; it too can be viewed every time I’m washing dishes and will put a smile on my face as I think about my son and what he might be doing at that moment. No time to mope, it’s time to plant!