Enter Grumpy’s 3rd Annual Crepe Murder Contest!

January 3, 2013 | By | Comments (22)
Oh, the horror! Innocent crepe myrtles reduced to ugly stumps! Photo by Steve Bender.

Oh, the horror! Innocent crepe myrtles reduced to ugly stumps! Photo by Steve Bender.

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! It’s 2013, the world didn’t end after all, which means another wacky season of crepe murder is upon us. That’s right! So many of you loved and participated in Grumpy’s last two contests that Crepe Murder 2013 starts today. Here’s how you can shame the villains and win a cool prize!

What Is Crepe Murder?
Crepe murder is what garden blogger Billy Goodnick would term a “crime against horticulture.” It refers to the stupefyingly primitive practice of chopping down crepe myrtles into short, ugly stumps every winter or spring, thus ruining their beautiful, architectural forms — in many cases, forever.

"Hi, I'm your neighbor, I have blue hair, so just close your eyes and be like me." Photo: danielle_blue.

“Hi, I’m your neighbor, I have blue hair, so just close your eyes and be like me.” Photo: danielle_blue.

Why do people perpetrate this crime? Usually, it’s because they saw their neighbors do it. Grumpy can only surmise, therefore, that if tomorrow we were to see our neighbors emerge from their homes adorned with blue hair, there would be an immediate run on the local Wal-Mart for blue spray-paint.

How You Can Help
The best way to stop crepe murder is to humiliate the criminals by posting photos of their heinous acts on The Grumpy Gardener. No need to mention their name or address (per advice of Grumpy’s personal attorney, Sue M. Bigtime). Just go to www.southernliving.com/crepe-murder to submit a photo of the evidence. Include your name, witty title or headline, and detailed description of what you saw. Enter as many times as you like. The contest runs through February 28, 2013.

A really, cool new feature of this year’s Crepe Murder contest is that once you upload your photo, it will go into a public gallery. You’ll be able to see everyone else’s photos along with your own and even vote for the one you think is the best of the worst. However, the Top 10 winners for 2013 will be chosen by Grumpy himself. He is, after all, the worldwide arbiter of taste.

What Will I Win?
All 10 winners of the Crepe Murder contest will receive a lovely ‘Early Bird’ crepe myrtle from our Southern Living Plant Collection. Not only does ‘Early Bird’ bloom earlier than other crepes, often starting in May, but it also grows only 6-8 feet tall, so you NEVER HAVE TO PRUNE IT. We’ll ship it right to your door at a good time for planting.

Now It’s Up To You
Will you stand by and let another beautiful crepe myrtle be maimed for no reason? My friends, the only thing necessary for evil horticulture to triumph is for good gardeners to do nothing. Show that you care. End the slaughter. Make a difference.



  1. Thou Shalt Not (Crape) Murder | Georgia Garden Girl

    […] way to stop crepe murder is to humiliate the criminals by posting photos of their heinous acts on The Grumpy Gardener” website.  If you will promise to refrain from crape murder, I will promise not stop my car to take a […]

    February 22, 2013 at 7:10 pm
  2. Steve Bender

    Cool title! I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    February 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm
  3. Stephanie

    You can recognize it by my catchy title “Silence of the Limbs”! I just entered it again; I do get a “Thank you for Submitting Your Photo” note each time I’ve tried it. Thanks for checking!

    February 1, 2013 at 2:38 pm
  4. Steve Bender

    I’ll check out the problem. The contest runs through February, so you still have plenty of time. Is there something about your photo that would help me recognize it?

    February 1, 2013 at 1:03 pm
  5. Stephanie

    Grumpy – I’ve shared a horrendous photo of crepe murder but it hasn’t popped up yet on the contest page! Can you let me know the time frame we can expect to see our entry online so that I know that it went through? I’m hoping it has winning quality and want to make certain it’s in the running!

    January 29, 2013 at 3:33 pm
  6. Steve Bender

    C’mon, Susan,


    January 25, 2013 at 10:42 am
  7. Susan

    Hi grumpy! Oh the pictures I could share….my husband has a lawncare business. Everytime that our clients ask us to trim their Crepe Myrtles I cringe. After proper trimming they are almost always displeased. “No I wanted them bobbed like everyone else’s” I have even taken books to show them how Cm’s are properly trimmed to no avail. Lol…oh well I look forward to seeing the pics

    January 24, 2013 at 3:20 pm
  8. Steve Bender

    Be ruthless, Samantha!

    January 21, 2013 at 8:56 am
  9. Samantha

    hahaha! after seeing ,my neighbor on a ladder with a chainsaw, all the while grumbling about property lines (we have two crepe myrtles in the yard, one is hers and one ours) and her husband looking on not helping saying “what have you done?”, i looked you up, soooo funny the crepe murder contest! so far she only has gotten started, and it looks like total carnage poor tree! i will post pics as she progresses!!

    January 21, 2013 at 8:33 am
  10. Kate

    Any chance you would consider extending the deadline for this to March 15? Here in southern Maryland the crepe myrtle carnage really ramps up in March.

    January 18, 2013 at 1:59 pm
  11. Starting Veggies Indoors – The Daily South | Your Hub for Southern Culture

    […] Enter Grumpy's 3rd Annual Crepe Murder Contest! […]

    January 17, 2013 at 9:22 am
  12. Patsy Knodel

    Patsy Knodel
    Thanks so much Steve — I didn’t realize I should just leave one/two main sprouts at the
    top of each stub. This should come out great. Actually pruning & growing up and out are what we did for St. James Methodist Church as a courtesy from Master Gardeners – they let us use their meeting room. Now to get mine pulled back into their upheavals, and they’ll sprout out. Then I’ll do your suggestion. What a relief. I planted these myself, and it hurt to see them fallen!

    January 16, 2013 at 5:18 pm
  13. Steve Bender

    Your crepe myrtles can be saved! When they start growing this spring, lots of shoots will sprout from the ends of each stub. Select one or two to save and prune off the others. These two will become new main trunks. Train them to grow up and out. In a few years, your crepe myrtles will again be presentable.

    January 16, 2013 at 2:48 pm
  14. Steve Bender

    G’dday, Carmen! I see Aussies and Americans share something in common besides the love of good beer!

    January 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm
  15. Patsy Knodel

    Help! I learned in Master Gardener certification how to prune a crepe myrtle, you cut out the “inner” branches that tend to crowd and cross over. All that to say then you don’t have the arthritic gnarled “fists” — BUT the 10″ snow we got last week flattened my crepe myrtles that had grown to about 25 feet tall, because I wanted them to — beautiful, and could be seen from the street blooming over the rooftop. Now they are uprooted, and while we sawed them off to about 3 ‘ tall, so we could drag the limbs to the curb for pick up, I shudder to think how I’m going to prevent the ugly from setting in. I had 3 “clumps” of them each with about 5 trunks from the roots. I think we will be able to use a “come along” and pull the stumps upright, and pack them back into the ground, and they will survive. I will proceed cautiously selecting whatever sprouts, in order to not commit crepe Murder!.

    January 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm
  16. Dave

    LOL. Your first line says: Surprise! It is 2103. For sure that is a surprise to me.

    January 15, 2013 at 6:24 pm
  17. Carmen

    Steve, you may be interested to know that this practice not only occurs in your country but here in Australia as well. Around the edge of a local park are several Crepe Myrtles which look beautiful when in flower, but come winter and they meet the same fate as those in your photograph. There is nothing sadder nor uglier. The ttle Crepe Murder is a perfect.

    January 15, 2013 at 2:28 am
  18. Steve Bender

    Here’s the link: http://www.southernliving.com/crepe-murder.

    January 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm
  19. Becky Pittman

    sooooo really really really you do not need to “chop” your cm? Just asking because I see lots and lots in my neighborhood and they allllll have their heads cut off! ARE YOU DOUBLE DOUBLE DOG SURE YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO THIS – just asking – thanks Becky

    January 8, 2013 at 9:30 pm
  20. Diana Mirkin

    Please post a link so we can look at the pictures.

    January 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm
  21. Allison

    This is hilarious! Can’t wait to see winning pictures. Poor trees.

    January 5, 2013 at 11:35 am
  22. denise

    none of my neighbors are guilty 😦

    January 3, 2013 at 9:55 pm

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