Crepe Murder Most Foul — Winner #5!

March 12, 2012 | By | Comments (3)

Remember the old Maytag repairman? The old, sad guy who just sat by a phone that never rang hoping against hope that one day someone’s washing machine would break down, so he’d have something to do?

Well, that’s what it’s like being a mailman today. Everything people used to mail they now send by email. If it weren’t for junk mail, there would be no mail at all. This makes mailmen desperate and bored. And you know what desperate, bored guys do with their extra time?

Exactly! They grab a saw and commit crepe murder. Behold Exhibit A.

Eagle-eyed reader Mark Wetherell spotted these horribly disfigured crepes outside of the U.S. Post Office in Evans, Georgia. These are ‘Natchez’ crepe myrtles that normally grow into trees 30 feet tall. But Cliff Clavin and the rest of his postal worker buddies were having none of that. Neither rain nor wind nor ice nor any sense of aesthetics was going to prevent them from turning formerly majestic trunks into knobby clubs that look afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis. So if your mail delivery has been a little slow in Evans lately (like you’d notice the difference), now you know why.

Can This Crime Be Cured?

Ladies who get home 5 minutes after their oafish hubby has prune their crepe myrtles like this one often ask Grumpy, “Is there any way to fix this that does not involve divorce, a baseball bat, or a little ‘personal pruning’ after he’s fallen asleep?” Yes, there is. Follow these steps.

1. Remove the ugly knobs by cutting through the trunk just below each one.

2. Gobs of new branches will then attempt to grow from the end of each trunk. Select one that’s growing in the direction you want and keep it. Prune off all others. The one you saved will become the replacement trunk.

3. Over the next couple of years, keep pruning off any new shoots that sprout from the end of the cut trunk.

4. Eventually, the new trunk above the murder site will be just as thick as the trunk below.

What’s Crepe Murder?

For the uninitiated, crepe murder refers to the odious practice of using chainsaws and loppers to reduce beautiful crepe myrtles to hideous stumps every spring. Not only does this ruin their sculptural form, but it also prevents them from developing that wonderfully mottled, smooth, flaky bark so welcome in the winter landscape. Moreover, the long, whiplike branches that grow from the stumps are too weak to hold up the flowers.

Prizes! Prizes!

Like every winner, Mark will receive a lavender ‘Early Bird’ crepe myrtle from our Southern Living Plant Collection. This crepe myrtle grows only 8 feet tall and never needs pruning. Come back tomorrow to see our next winner. It’s hear horror.



  1. Jim Long

    Oh my gosh! I can’t imagine how much worse crepe murder could be! Were they trying to make wood for carving canes? I’ve a friend who likes crepe myrtle wood for carving spoons. Very artful, beautiful spoons. He calls the wood, “crazy myrtle” because he can’t remember the name, “crepe.” This entry of crepe murder, surely must be the worst one. It can’t get any worse (I hope).

    March 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm
  2. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Yes, Pam, that would be another good solution and one I’ve employed in the past.

    March 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm
  3. Pam/Digging

    What about just cutting the poor, butchered tree to the ground, Steve, and letting it come back from the roots? Then you can select an odd number of shoots to train into new, beautiful trunks, with no scar tissue showing past damage.

    March 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

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