Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dreams of Zone 5 Crepe Myrtle

People like me who live in gardening zone 5 (Binghamton, NY area) dream of being able to grow some of the really beautiful flowering plants. True, we have lilacs, and various flowering trees (apple, cherry, etc.). But there are several 'queens of the flowering plants' that would die after just one of our winters.

One of these is a shrub I miss from living, years ago, in more temperate climates.  When I went down to Virginia last week, I knew they would be in bloom.  It had been years since I had seen them, and they did not disappoint.

Crepe myrtles.

I was not inclined to go on a picture taking spree in the 104 degree heat, but I did get a couple of pictures I wanted to share with you - in case you have not ever seen these beauties in blooming action.  I know these are everyday plants to some of my readers in - for example, Texas - but they aren't for us of the snow belt.

Back years ago, when I made my acquaintance with the crepe myrtle, the main colors were pink or purple.  Now, some 30 years later, we have white, red, pink, purple and I understand there is even a weeping variety.

These plants tend to have a number of disease and insect problems but I've read this is being worked on, too.

Thanks to the fact that no one has yet invented smell-o-blog, I can not bring you the fragrance.  It is a light fragrance-it would never compete with a lilac, for example - but it is definitely there.

(I was also hoping the magnolias would be in bloom, speaking of fragrance, but it appeared we were just a little too early.)

This is the Henry Hill Visitors Center at the Manassas Battlefield outside of Manassas, VA.  The shrubs blooming in the right of the picture are crepe myrtles.  

This is a stand of crepe myrtles in a shopping center in Fairfax, VA.

There is one stand of crepe myrtle I wish I could have gotten a picture of, given the number of times we passed it.  It was in a Centreville, VA shopping center up against the wall of a gym. These were huge specimens, I would guess at least 9 feet tall, growing up against a wall of the gym.  But I just didn't want to get out of the air conditioning of our car to take their picture.

I wonder if anyone will ever be able to breed a variety that will be hardy down to zone 5.  I'll be your first customer.

After that, someone needs to work on hardy camelias.....


  1. There are so many crepe myrtles in VA they're growing in the road medians and in every neighborhood. I have three in my garden but no delphiniums or lupines AT ALL. I used to live in upstate NY and had a completely different garden than the one I currently have. I hope you didn't melt in our recent heat wave. :o)

  2. That's what I want from genetic breeding: CMs to -20F!


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