I bet that after you saw the mutilated crepe myrtles on this page last week, you said to yourself, “There’s no way Grumpy can match that this week!” Wanna bet? Let’s begin with the first winning entry, shown above, sent in by Rusty Stover in Houston.
How old do you think this tortured plant is? Go on, guess. Nope! Nope! Nope! Not even close! Believe it or not, it is 36 years old! It was this size when Rusty bought his condo way back then. Plants normally grow—that’s what they do—so you might be curious why this one never has. It’s all thanks to a grounds crew that never fails to show up in late fall. “I have told them many times not to do this, but they seem to sneak in here on a day I am not home and chop away,” he writes. “There is no stopping them. Oh well, the space is too small for a large crepe myrtle anyway.” Moral of the story: ask how big a crepe myrtle will get before you plant it. Small ones don’t need pruning.
More from Southern Living
People often respond to crepe murder by asking, “If you’re gonna chop a tree that bad, why not cut it all the way to the ground?” In Florence, South Carolina, some folks do. From the looks of things, they cut this one in the fall, providing exactly the right amount of time from the stumps to sprout suckers that didn’t have time to harden off in time for winter and were killed. Bravo! Thanks to Bonnie Martin Sorrell for recording this perfidy.
Is good landscaping essential to the success of a small business? Apparently not, as this Taco Bell in Lexington, South Carolina shows us with their closely cropped crepe myrtles. Obviously, the intention here is to prevent foliage and flowers from obscuring the lovely fire escape, breaker box, and gas meter behind them. Julie Lyle Huber, who sent me this winning photo, eats here every day. She especially likes the sawdust taco.
Caught on tape! Well, on a cell phone camera, actually. So often we see only the maimed corpses of crepe myrtles in this contest. But Ella Vaughan found herself at an active crime scene at a local bank and was brave enough to record the action. Ella doesn’t give the location—the fear of having to enter a witness protection program is daunting—but Grumpy suspects it’s near Huntsville, Alabama. Roll Pruners!
Finally, today, let us pause for a moment to ponder the brilliant pruning technique exercised by a landscape crew over and over again! Stephanie Gilliam, who captured this masterpiece, informs me it stands in from of an insurance company in Florence, Alabama. All Grumpy can say is, I hope that crepe myrtle has insurance!
WATCH: How To Prune Crepe Myrtles
What’s the Right Way to Prune?
You’ve seen the wrong way, but what’s the right way? Answer: Google “Crepe Myrtle Pruning Step-By-Step.”