An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

July 15, 2012

Fifth Annual Citywide Bloom Day

It is a July tradition at A Tidewater Gardener to celebrate my city's signature tree, the crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica and hybrids).  Last year's celebration took place elsewhere, but this year we are bringing it back home, and if you want to know more about why this tree is special here, then you can read more here.  My son and I got on our bikes this past Friday, enjoying temperatures in the low 80's, and began our trip at Old Dominion University, home to some very nice plantings. 

Crape Myrtles July 2012 (4)

Crape Myrtles July 2012 (5)

Crape Myrtles July 2012 (8)

Crape Myrtles July 2012 (6)

Crape Myrtles July 2012 (7)

Crape Myrtles July 2012 (3)

Despite a love affair with urban renewal, Norfolk still keeps a few older buildings lying around, and the crape myrtles grow by them just as well.

Crape Myrtles July 2012 (14)

Crape Myrtles July 2012 (15)

Crape Myrtles July 2012 (12)

Let's head downtown where there are more than a few crapes to look at.

Crape Myrtles July 2012 (16)

Crape Myrtles July 2012 (19)

Crape Myrtles July 2012 (21)

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is an event held on the 15th of each month where gardeners who blog can post about what they have blooming. The host of this world-wide event is Carol of May Dreams Garden, and if you would like to see for yourself, then please pay her a visit.

(Stay tuned as the Florida travelogue resumes in upcoming posts.  You won't want to miss the next one, as I have a close encounter with a different species, Alligator mississippiensis.)


  1. What a wonderful show they make. I remember when we came house hunting in Texas those trees were all in bloom. 'I must plant those beauties' were my words. But you do need a big space and I found my garden wasn't big enough. We had some for a while and then tried to get rid of them. Just impossible. They grow from every little bit of root you leave in the ground. Now I have bushes everywhere! Happy bloom day.

  2. Very nice, Les. We can never take this tree for granted here. To me, its strength is in the bark and trunk's character, less so in the flowers. I doubt it'll get to far, but the city's arborist is suggesting they be slowly replaced in areas. I understand if there are a few of ill-health that need to be replaced, but I don't know if I will care as much for their replacements, or if the replacements will bring as much sparkle to Norfolk. The use and move of more hybridized columnar and lolipopped shaped trees of recent is not a good look. Let me know when we should start marching down City Hall in protest- we might might be able to get 3 or 4 people together....

  3. There is nothing that brings more visual pleasure on the hottest days than crape myrtle.

  4. Well I was expecting a lot of lavish FL tropicals, but this is wonderful, too. Not a single white flowering specimen to be found?!?

    I just planted two in the garden. I love the size, bark, and growth habit so much (not too big!) the flowers were a mere bonus.

  5. I think I see why crepes are revered there. Every color is used here, dwarfs to 15' trees. Even with our drought, they are being used more, each w/ a bubbler to irrigate them.

    Where they really shine in your photos to me, is in something uncommon here...older architecture. As well as the grove overhanging the broad campus sidewalk. As you note, it's great some old buildings are left with those near.

  6. Well, in addition to the great pictures of Crepe Myrtles what I notice is that your photography has improved by leaps and bounds over your 2008 posting for GBBD. Looks to me that both camera and skill have advanced.

  7. Oh they are a lovely tree. Do they have a nice scent ? I love the shot of the "tunnel" of them.

    I wonder if they can be found in Nova Scotia.

  8. What other tree blooms as long as a Crape Myrtle? None! After attending your lecture last month on "Trees" presented to my garden club, I have been following your blog. Your pictures are so beautiful.

  9. Terribly over planted, so I hope we don't tire of it someday. It's a beautiful four-season tree.

  10. I have never actually seen a crepe myrtle in bloom, so thanks for the photos! Makes me sad, though, it won't grow in zone 5.

  11. LR,
    They are constantly coming up in my garden, either from the roots of a large tree or from dropped seed. They have a good insurance policy with Mother Nature.

    John P.,
    I can understand the city's motives for steering away from them in the future. What would happen if some blight came through and took out a tree that makes up over half of the city's street trees? Of course they usually seem to be prone to ill-health when they block the view of billboards and business signs.

    They almost make putting up with the heat worth it.

    I did take some pics of Natchez, the most popular white, but they did not speak to me. Stay tuned, there will be lavish foliage from Florida coming in a few posts.

    With our temperate rainfall, they are consider drought tolerant here. When we do have wet summers they really never stop blooming until early fall.

    Thank you for noticing the change in photos. I was very frustrated when I had my first digital camera, as I could not get it to do what I wanted. Now with a digital SLR things here are much happier.

    Yes they have a nice scent, delicate and sweet. Alas, they would not make it in Nova Scotia.

    Thank you for following along. I know one of the common names for this tree is "tree of 100 days", which is certainly apt.

    James G.,
    It is over-planted, but I am OK with that at this point. I was surprised to see them planted fairly regularly in south Florida where they seemed downright frumpy compared to all the more tropical plants.


  12. This is a fantastic tree here. We have 4 growing on the property and they do very well in the they produce some of the most beautiful flowers in the summer. I love that one pic of the Crape lining the street. Beautiful. Looks like a nice tradition you have there.

  13. Of course, they have to broaden street tree species for possible blight reasons. What they are using in place is not attractive, however.

  14. Les, I loved this. I love crapemyrtles. I have to write it as one word though because our crapemyrtle king hybridizer, Carl Whitcomb, would have my hide if I didn't. :) Either way, they are the glories of the summer south. Ours don't get that big though because of our crazy winters. Remember when mine died to the ground? Well, they are not shrubs again at least. Happy Bloom Day!~~Dee

  15. They are lovely...I was looking up at my 'Natchez' and wondering when it got so darn tall! How ever am I going to get up there to thin those crossing branches!

  16. Crapemyrtle trees, I must confess I've never seen one. We can not grow them in Southern Canada but I sure wish we could. The colors are wild.

  17. I love crape myrtles, and my neighbor has some that I borrow for my garden. Your tour was lovely.

  18. Absolutely magnificent looking.

    -Tony Salmeron

  19. What gorgeous crepe myrtles! Ours never bloom as well as they should--we have a lot of shade. Several years ago, when I was completing my Master Gardener course, I was talking about "crepe murder" and my kids overheard me. Since then, anytime we see the unfortunate pruning, they scream, "Crepe Murderer!" at the yard. It's a bit...mortifying, but also pretty funny! ;-)

  20. Lovely post...and I just adore Crape lovely during all parts of the year :-)