Saturday, November 2, 2013
Washington, DC is not exactly known for our fall foliage, but here and there, trees stand out with brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. But fall color from... a crape myrtle. Who would have thought? I've had a love/hate relationship with this particular crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia cultivar) for years; it's growing in my neighbor's yard but most of it overhangs my front walk and steps. I have no idea which cultivar this is but it was probably planted by my neighbor's parents well over 30 years ago. It's a tough tree, growing in poor, dry, compacted soil and never getting any care of any kind, and produces masses of bright magenta-pink flowers all summer. And that's when I start hating it a little bit. The flowers may be beautiful, and the first few that drop onto the walk and steps may be charming, but then they just keep coming. I sweep, and by the time I get to the bottom of the steps, more have fallen behind me. They get mashed underfoot and tracked indoors, and when it rains they wash into our gutters and drains, clogging them up. But in the fall all is forgiven, when the leaves produce this glorious red-orange color for just a few days, and then the leaves fall all at once, creating the perfect mulch for my plants. But if I ever planted one for myself, I would site it well away from any walkways!