Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August Fireworks

Related imageJuly 4th is one good reason to celebrate our country.  It's also, at least to a serious gardener, a way to usher in high summer and relish the zinnias taking hold and savor the burgeoning vegetable garden. But, July 4th comes and goes all too quickly and the high humidity days of late July start eyeing the nasty dog days of August as it looms closer and closer until, one morning we wake up and find August is already upon us.  Already?!? Where did the fresh face of June go to? It seems to me that any day after the fourth of July is a blur of daily hand-to-hand combat with the weeds in lavender beds and, that battle does not yet look to be won during these first days of August and now waning summer. (#nuclear weeds!--haha)
Red Crepe Myrtle posing with it's friendly summertime neighbor, hydrangea.

However, along with these days where one can feel a little "hang-dog" while trying to refresh and replace spent plants in the herb and vegetable gardens, along with the ornamental borders, comes some beautiful bright spots in the August landscape. Here in the mid-Atlantic and southern regions, the beautiful shrubby tree and splendidly colorful Crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia) flaunts her graceful, arching branches in jewel tone colors.   

The pops and sprays of colors from white to purple (my favorite--no surprise there) to blood red explode like firecrackers along roadsides, next to homes and in fields of emerald green, illuminating their surroundings and lending freshness to August's white hot days. If their colors don't make you pause, just take a look at their textured, 3-D peeling bark for added drama.😏 Just sayin'...

The two immense "Natchez" Crepe myrtles that adorn the front of my home sprinkle summertime snowflakes down on our front walk for weeks and carpet the brick path with soft white petals that melt slowly into the ground, making this kind of flowery precipitation at times other-worldly.  By September, these summer blossoms have all but disappeared leaving behind green shiny berries that stay on the trees through winter, turning brown, and then into spring and even summer until a new crop of papery petals come forth.

Crepe myrtle derives its name from two things; first its leaves closely resemble the common herb, myrtle(Myrtus comunus) and secondly, its flower blossoms also have a wrinkly feel to them making them somewhat like crepe paper. These splendid mid-summer to fall beauties are hardy to around zone 5 making crepe myrtle a queen a the south and a rising star of the north as more varieties are introduced in the plant world.

In the Language of Flowers, the meaning of crepe myrtle stands for "eloquence" or "well-spoken" as its power of persuasion in letting us know that summer has no intention of relinquishing it's hold for quite sometime is on full display during the month of August.  So, let the fireworks continue and the colors burst free and wild from the flowers of crepe myrtle and let's celebrate the dog days of summer made so much brighter, due in large part, to the splendid nature of the Crepe myrtle.

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