Celebrate Crape Myrtles

East Texas has bragging rights to Azaleas, which require acidic soil and regular moisture.  We certainly can’t grow Azaleas here, but boy, can we grow Crape Myrtles in Central and North Texas.

In 2006, after we had been here a year, we built a long flowerbed.  At one end we planted Three Dynamite Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Dynamite’).

These were chosen because I wanted the deepest red possible.  Interestingly, the flowers are red with some coral shades.

Wild Crape Myrtles come from Asia.  Growers tried to develop intense deep flower colors, but true red flowers were always elusive. Finally in 1997, after years of intense breeding, Dr. Carl Whitcomb introduced Dynamite®, the first crape myrtle with true red flowers.

The leaves tend to be coppery green.  Another characteristic of Crape Myrtles are their multi-trunks, which are smooth.  Sometimes it’s necessary to cut out trunks to keep the number to three or five.

Crape Myrtles come in different colors, sizes, and hardiness.  Texas A & M provides good resources for that information.

This Victor Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Victor’) is a dwarf that was planted in 2013 in a different flowerbed.  It has not thrived, probably because surrounding plants have encroached.

Crape Myrtles can be Weeping, Dwarfs, Semi Dwarfs, Small Trees or Trees.  Colors run the gamut of pinks and red.  There are also whites and purples.

In 2012, two Basham’s Party Pink Crapemyrtles (Lagerstoemia indica x fauriei ‘Bashan’s Party Pink’) were planted.  Those are the tall ones.

Another good site for Crapemyrtle information is from Florida.

Basham’s Party Pink are the tallest Crapemyrtles of all.  They can grow 30 – 40 feet tall and 15 – 20 ft. wide.  Don’t think we left enough space here.

They did not bloom for four years, so I wondered if they would make it.  But, hooray, they’ve bloomed two years in a row.

In the July/August 2017 edition of the Texas Gardener magazine, there is an article on a new pest attacking our beloved Crapemyrtles.  The bark scale is in East Texas, but I haven’t seen any sign of it in this area.  One site does give instructions to help control it.  Start the procedures in the fall to protect your trees.

In 2015, two Centennial Spirit Crape Myrtles were planted in that small corner where the soil is extremely rocky.  They are definitely struggling, but surviving.

Crape Myrtles should be fertilized only in the spring before they bloom.

Then, growers came out with novelty Crape Myrtles.  This one is Black Diamond.  The new growth has green leaves, so the whole plant may revert to its rootstock color.

This was bought last spring and really, really must be planted in the ground.  Got to find a place this fall.

Last May we attended the Festival of Flowers in San Antonio.  The speakers were excellent.  In the sales area, these “Alamo Fire” Red Crepe Myrtle grabbed my attention.  They were developed by a friend of the man selling them.

By the way, there doesn’t seem to be any consistency for the spelling of Crape Myrtle or if it is one word or two.  Note the spelling in the above paragraph.

Breeders are spending lots of time hybridizing new varieties.  The market remains wide open in Texas.

This color has definitely become my favorite.

Right after these three were planted, they started blooming.  Then something ate the flowers and leaves.  Jackrabbits, I suspect because they are permanently ensconced in our yard.  Anyway, these metal cages have worked to keep out the culprits.

More info about Crapemyrtles on Plant Answers.

Give these beauties full sun and just enjoy.  But do not commit Crape Murder (cutting all the branches off in winter).

“Some people think I’m going crazy.  The joke is on them.  I went there three years ago, fell in love with the place, and decided to stay there.”  unknownSave











Wild and Beautiful

In the pastures and along the roads, nature is showing its color.

It’s easy to walk right past Algarita (Berberis trifoliolata) because it’s flowers and berries are so small.

When you step up close, the scent of the yellow flowers, the patterns of the crisscross  branches, and the shape of the leaves become noticeable.  But, beware, it is prickly.

The red berries, which are edible and are used for jelly, are just starting to form.  Usually, it blooms from February to April.

To see many of the flowers this time of the year, one must look down.  The flowers of Prairie Fleabane (Erigeron modestus) are tiny:  about 1/2″ to 3/4″ across.  Everyone I spotted had a bug on it.

There are two varieties of Rain Lilies in Texas.  The ones that bloom in the spring are Cooperia pedunculata and have shorter floral tubes.

Water from one of the tanks is still spilling over even though we haven’t had any significant amounts of rain recently.

The bright yellow of the Fringed Puccoon (Lithospermum incisum) is the only reason one would notice this small plant.  All these small flowers can easily be trampled without seeing them.

Fringed Puccoon was used by the native tribes and early settlers to make dye from the roots.  The roots also has medicinal properties.  The Blackfeet people burned the dried leaves and flowers as an incense.

My old pals, Sweet William or Prairie Verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida) are back.  I love these pretty little flowers that are so plentiful.

Driving between Goldthwaite and San Saba, I just had to stop to snap a picture of  this massive field of bright yellow.  This photo only shows about one third of the field.

I think the plants are Bastard Cabbage (Rapistrum Rusosum).  Although the solid yellow fields are pretty, the plants are extremely invasive and unwanted.

Not sure, but think this is a native blackberry bush that just showed up outside our gate.

Native Redbuds (Cercis canadensis var. texensis) seem to be springing up everywhere.

To see their beauty, get up close enough to hear all the bees.

And to see the two different shades of pink  that make up their blossoms.

Nature is offering the first colors and beauty this time of the year.

“Be selective in your battles.  Sometimes peace is better than being right.” unknown author








Weatherford Home Tour, Part 2

Continuing the Candlelight Tour of Homes in Parker County, we come to an unusual house.

blackhouseThis house started as a two room rock house built in 1874 by the Postmaster of Weatherford.  In 1894, the rock was dismantled and used as piers for the first floor of the present house.  The design was a Queen Anne style with five rooms divided by a central hallway.

In 1904, the house was purchased by another family, who added the upper story that has five rooms.  Since that time, no other structural changes have been made.

Surely the dark paint was added much later.

blackhouse1The central hallway is covered with ornate wallpaper.


blackhouse3Off the front hallway to the right is a formal parlor, which also sports an elaborate treatment on the ceiling.

blackhouse4The whole house is decorated in a heavy Victorian style and is much too dark for my tastes.

blackhouse5One of the volunteers provided the information that the house is currently owed by a couple who have a decorating business in Dallas.  The open magazine shows pictures from this house.  So I’m guessing the inside was renovated by them with the formal wallpaper, drapes, and furnishings.

blackhouse6The next room from the parlor is the formal dining room.

blackhouse7Pretty fancy.  Since Magnolia trees aren’t prolific around here, large Bur Oak leaves could be used.


blackhouse9The kitchen is off of the dining room and is the only bright room in the house.


blackhousebWonder if this is for show or is used?

blackhousecUpstairs some of the bedroom walls are covered with shiplap.  It may be original.  But usually, during that time frame, it would have been covered with wallpaper.  So, the newest owners may have stripped them.

The trees are cut from heavy metal.  Wonder how they would look cut from corrugated cardboard?


blackhouseeThis doesn’t look like real stained glass but seems to be a thin veneer applied to the window.

blackhousefThis style of wallpaper suggests it could be original or at least, old.

blackhousegIn this bedroom, the bed is from Indonesia.

blackhousehFresh roses with Dusty Miller foliage is a nice touch.


blackhousejThis “foamy bath” water look actually was unappealing to me.  Probably just being too critical.

blackhousekI wondered if the draping of leaf garlands in many rooms was seasonal or not.




blackhouseoThis great metal planter was on the front porch.  I was tempted to ask the people sitting in the really cute metal chairs to get up so I could get a better picture of them.  But I held my tongue.

Everyone has different preferences in decorating.  This was not my style, but I could take away some of the Christmas decorating ideas.

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”     Albert Einstein