The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

March 10, 2016 | By | Comments (14)
Crepe murder

Photo: Steve Bender

Faithful readers, in preparation for the unveiling of the winners of Crepe Murder 2016 this Sunday, March 13, I thought you’d enjoy this extremely stupid episode that occurred in Grumpy’s own neighborhood last weekend.

The snarl of a chainsaw is always disturbing, but never more than on a warm Saturday in late winter in the South. You just know what is underway. Some poor crepe myrtle is being butchered by a dumbbell feeling his testosterone.

I was correct (as I always am). There was nothing I could do to stop him — I’m rather fond of my extremities — so I decided to bear witness to this atrocity and record it with my phone.

Now let me explain what’s going on in the photo above. The two young men are not at fault. They live in the house and are just moving brush. The guy in the white cap is the perp. I don’t know if their mother paid him to do this, but he was so excited at seeing those big limbs fall, you’d think he’d just landed a 16-point buck.

At the end, he turned to the boys and said something that will surely be recorded in the Guinness Book of  the World’s Most Idiotic Statements: “The beautiful thing about this is you can do anything to ’em and they’ll grow back.” Yep, you can reduce beautiful, big crepe myrtles not planted near power lines or shading out the lawn to gnarled stumps and heaps of brush and the dang things won’t even die. High five!

Here’s the irony. A few years back, I photographed these very same crepe myrtles in full bloom to show what properly pruned crepes should look like.

Crepe myrtle

Photo: Steve Bender

And here’s what they look like now.

Crepe murder

Photo: Steve Bender

Wow, that’s so much better, don’t you think?

Yes, they will grow back. But their natural form is forever ruined. I have just one last question to the lunkhead in the cap. See that big maple on the corner of the house? How come you didn’t cut it the same way?

But trust me, even worse examples of mindless pruning are yet to come. Meet me right here this Sunday, when the first winners of Crepe Murder 2016 are revealed!


  1. Deborah Watts

    While i was away, my 30 foot Natchez crape myrtle which I had nurtured for years was trimmed of all of its greenery ,not butchered, thankfully,but now has no green leaves-it is early May in Alabama and the plant had already sent out 5 foot long branches. I had told the worker to remove only the bottom third of the greenery, but he did not understand. The bare branches are now shaped beautifully, but I am afraid that the plant won’t live without any leaves. It is in the middle of a blazing hot deck, now with no shade. What can I do as the summer approaches to ensure that the plant will live. How long will it take to branch back out? If the plant does branch back out, it will be beautifully shaped.

    May 15, 2016 at 2:43 pm
  2. Pam Penick

    Makes me want to cry. That’s truly awful. My new neighbor did the same thing to his big crepe a month or so ago.

    April 1, 2016 at 12:09 am
  3. Summer Deal

    Cynthia C C Payne: Is it Denny’s home on 20th? The home with beautiful character. My husband is works at ABPD.

    March 15, 2016 at 1:01 am
  4. Carol

    I am having trouble with my kumquat tree. For the last two years I haven’t been able to eat any of the fruit because they start to turn brown and spotty as soon as they seem to be ready to eat. Help?

    March 12, 2016 at 11:04 pm
  5. Laura

    Will there be another contest?? I’m sure I would Win! The home we are purchasing on March 25th has Several murdered myrtles..& I really do believe they will Not be coming back… it’s so Sad!
    Thank goodness they left the Camilla’s alone!!

    March 12, 2016 at 8:57 pm
  6. Becky

    They should of just removed them. Topping is an improper technique according to ANSI

    March 10, 2016 at 9:51 pm
  7. Kim Clausen

    We learned from Southern Living and The Grumpy Gardner how to properly cut back our huge Crepe Myrtle! My husband and I are sad when we see them butchered!

    March 10, 2016 at 4:57 pm
  8. SinDC

    My husband committed this act on my beautiful peonies! Not in the fall when they are suppose to be cut, but now (in NJ). Took me 4 years to get them bushy & blooming. Divorce is an option……

    March 10, 2016 at 4:10 pm
  9. Cynthia C C Payne

    We were in Atlantic Bch FL last weekend and there’s a house with about a dozen mutilated crepes in the front yard. They’ve done it every year for approx 10 yrs, We call it the arthritis tree yard. Very sad!

    March 10, 2016 at 3:03 pm
  10. kim

    I just moved to Mississippi from Missouri and bought a house. I was told “You need your crepe myrtles cut.” I didn’t even know what they were. Well, seven butchered myrtle’s later, I know now how they are suppose to look and that they look awful in my yard. So my question is-how are they suppose to be cut and how long will it take for these beautiful trees to grow back? Can’t believed I paid for this!

    March 10, 2016 at 2:56 pm
  11. Rita C at Panoply

    Oh, seriously, that needs reported to the PO-lice. That’s the worst I’ve ever seen. So sad.

    March 10, 2016 at 2:37 pm
  12. dlewis015

    So sad!!

    March 10, 2016 at 10:29 am
  13. MW

    No Words……

    March 10, 2016 at 8:36 am
  14. JoAnn

    Every year I find this totally amazing. What I also find amazing is the city that does it to these beautiful trees on thoroughfares and around the park areas. Dont cities have horticulturalist that told them about trees and didn’t anybody tell them don’t do that !!

    March 10, 2016 at 7:45 am

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