>Murder Most Foul


We never thought it could happen to us. I was not at home at the time. No one saw what happened and as such, there were no witnesses, just evidence left in a big pile on my sidewalk. It was Murder! Murder most foul! Of course, I am referring to the deplorable habit people in the South have of murdering their Crape Myrtles. As you can see from the photos, we too have fallen victim to the practice. Just a few weeks ago I told my wife, “when Walt comes to trim the trees, I want to have a little chat with him.” I wanted to tell him just how I wanted the Crape Myrtles trimmed. It was as if I was barking at the wind, he came he murdered, he left. Took all the top growth and left us with 6ft. stubs.

I wanted him to maybe trim off every other stem and leave some top growth, so they would retain some form, but noooooooo. It’s not Walt’s fault. He is only following the lead of the legion of landscape professionals in the industry that actually train people to commit this heinous act on unsuspecting homeowners. My neighborhood is a small cloister of homes on 4 streets about 120 homes total. Out of the 120, I would guess 85 have Crape Myrtles and about 60 of those have already been subjected to this type of treatment. It’s really kinda sad…. Maybe I should start a national movement to put a STOP to this practice… Are you with me????? Wait…. Do I have time for another cause???? Maybe I just needed to vent!!!!


About Chris VanCleave - America's Favorite Rose Gardener

Christopher R. VanCleave – America’s Favorite Rose Gardener Nicknamed "The Redneck Rosarian”, Chris VanCleave is passionate about gardening and growing roses. He is an active member of the Birmingham chapter of the American Rose Society, serving two terms as President. In 2007, he created the Rose Chat Podcast which has reached over a half a million listeners with news and information on growing on growing the world’s most beloved flower, the rose. He was a contributor to the 2015 Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television show and was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Locally, Chris serves as Chairman of the Helena Alabama Beautification Board where he has spearheaded efforts to create a sustainable landscape in one of the top one hundred places to live in the United States. His writing is seen at About.com and on his popular website; RedneckRosarian.com, where he chronicles his gardening adventures and explores an intrinsic mix of life, faith and gardening. An agent of change with over 20 years’ experience in process innovation, Mr. VanCleave is leading the charge to reinvigorate horticultural societies and helping them to reach their full potential in the social media age.
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13 Responses to >Murder Most Foul

  1. >Try to take some solace in the fact that he did not stub them down to knee high as some I have seen. Take courage in the knowledge that crepe myrtles grow very fast. If you can have that heart to heart with him over the summer perhaps they will be more to your satisfaction next year. I am beginning to notice that crepe myrtle pruning seems not to me quite as severe as before. Fix your self a nice cup of tea and look through the Burpee catalog and think calmimg thoughts. Be thankful that he didn't prune your roses.


  2. >It's Crepe Murder! I stopped doing this to my CMs and they look much nicer. But most of my neighbors still do it.


  3. FlowerLady says:

    >That's horrible! Just recently DH trimmed some bougainvillea and roses that were too high for me to get to, and when he was done with that he asked me did I want him to trim a dead looking tree. I looked at what he was talking about and said NO, don't you'll be committing murder. He looked at me like I was crazy, and I told him that's what it's called and that it ruins the form of the tree. ~ In the wild those trees would not be butchered like that for Pete's sake. I feel your pain and loss.FlowerLady


  4. Katydid says:

    >I was looking at my crepe myrtles yesterday and thought that I should cut them back. Thanks to your post I am going to google how to do it right!Kelly


  5. >Talk about trimming all of the limbs off. It did get quite the haircut there Chris. I have one but it dies back every winter and I trim off the dead wood in the spring. It basically just remains a shrub here instead of the tree forms they become in the southern states.It does look like it is a severe trimming though.


  6. Jeff Branch says:

    >You should partner with Steve Bender who writes for Southern Living – he repeatedly writes about crepe murder trying to bring an end to this practice. He doesn't let anyone touch the crepe myrtles at our church. But at least you have one, I don't which I think is a crime in the South.


  7. HolleyGarden says:

    >How shocking! I was actually going to blog about this today – spent the day getting pictures – then found this! I hope your crape grows back nicely and it doesn't get murdered next year.


  8. HolleyGarden says:

    >How shocking! I was actually going to blog about this today – spent the day getting pictures – then found this! I hope your crape grows back nicely and it doesn't get murdered next year.


  9. Phillip says:

    >I never cut the majority of ours but I did prune a small one today and it looks sort of like your photo. I felt awful afterward. However, I still don't understand the correct procedure. When I cut back to the Vs, the new growth always goes straight up, which is not what I want. Still, no matter how I do it, the same thing happens. Maybe, once pruned, it is too late to get a good branched shape?


  10. >Your well-intended message will fall on deaf ears … too many folks see this everywhere, and they think that this is how one is SUPPOSED to handle crape myrtle. It's what they see in commercial landscapes, and these are maintained by professionals (not!!) so it MUST be correct … right? The most beautiful crape myrtles I have seen are the ones that are allowed to attain their graceful arching shape, with careful pruning to open up their canopy a bit. Pretty soon, it will be summer and your tree will be all leafed out so you won't see the awkwardness that you are confronted with now. Next time, perhaps you could leave a note for Walt.


  11. Shirley says:

    >I used to work at the Mary Washington House (George's mom) and you would love the Crepe Myrtle there. It is huge! It is as high as the second story of the house and sprawls at least 20 feet across. It was only planted in the 1960s when the garden was restored. I think it may have a little help, its root system may reach into an area where a well once stood.


  12. >Now that is a sad, sad looking tree or bush or what IS it exactly? I love them. Here up north I think we need a sub climate in our zone 5. I'd love to have one.


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