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.
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.