When I moved to East Haddam, Connecticut, 11 years ago I tried and failed at growing crape myrtle, a tree I had loved in my Southern gardens. I saw one crape myrtle in town. After several years it was gone, apparently cut down or killed in a winter too cold for this iconic little tree. I'm told it grows in towns along Long Island Sound, where the water keeps temperatures a bit warmer.
Location, location, location.
In my garden, 20 miles north of the Sound, I compensate. I grow what's known as crape myrtle of the North because of its exfoliating bark. More familiarly it is seven-son flower or Heptacodium miconioides. When I planted mine about five years ago, I almost turned it into a single-trunk tree. I'm glad I didn't.
|By any name, it's a pleaser, starting in late summer with little white flowers, followed by fruits and red sepals. All understated.|
The big show is the bark, whose shreds stir with the breezes.
Soon, all the leaves will freeze and disappear, the fruit and sepals, too – revealing the showy bark as a reminder of gardens in another time, another place. This is not crape myrtle, the ones I grew in the South – big-bloomed, Southern style. Still, it's close enough. I'm loving the one I'm with.
|Crape myrtle of the North in stony "groundcover."|