It’s not possible to live in zone 7 of Virginia and not have at least one crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia) growing in your yard. All through the hot, dry days of summer, crape myrtles thrive and produce blooms in color palettes ranging from white, red, lavender, pink and purple. Some crape myrtles grow only three feet tall and others can reach 30 feet in height and they all produce long lasting clusters of blooms when all else in the garden is throwing in the towel.
There were shades of pink and lavender growing in this landscape when we purchased this property but I fell hard for ‘Natchez’ that bears delicate white blooms. In the mid-fifties, a species was imported from China to the United States that was resistant to powdery mildew and it also shed its bark in late summer to reveal a gorgeous cinnamon colored bark. The National Arboretum in DC cultivated popular hybrids from this tree bearing the names of Native American tribes. ‘Natchez’ was one of the hybrids.
We planted one ‘Natchez’ in a border framing the entrance of the home and three more lining the driveway where they receive the recommended 6 hours of sunlight and good air flow to prevent mildew…. just in case.
It’s an amazing process to observe the bark’s exfoliation from the trunk of the tree, very much like a birch tree. After several days it begins to hang in strips, then finally falls to the ground. We are rewarded with the mottled cinnamon colored bark that is a focal point through the cold winter months.