It's no secret what our favorite tree is! Hampton Roads' gardeners often visit asking this question and the answer is always the Crepe Myrtle. When debating the variety to choose, we polled a few of our experts for their favorites and here's what they had to say:
STEPHANIE PHILLIPS, Assitant Store Manager (Virginia Beach)
"That's a hard one, but I think it would have to be a tie between Natchez and Catawba. Natchez, because it's a neutral white and will work in any landscape as long as you have room for a tree that can grow at least 30 feet. Also, the Natchez is significant for the Virginia Beach Garden Center because it greets customers as they enter our store, provides a canopy for shade-loving plants, a backdrop for many displays, and it can be seen by passers-by on Independence Boulevard! I also favor the Catawba, because it has the most vivid color of the crepe myrtles -- it's a bright purple. Unlike the Natchez, it's small enough to fit into almost any yard. Growing to about 15 feet, it can be pruned into a small tree, or, left unpruned, can be kept as a large shrub."
MIKE WESTPHAL, Garden Supply Buyer
"My favorite is the Hopi. This semi dwarf variety gets 12 feet tall and wide. Hopi has a perfect pink bloom that is not too hot of a pink, but not too soft either ~ it really is the perfect pink. It has great exfoliating bark that adds to its winter interest. It fits into any landscape as a small specimen tree or focal point, or in mass to make a major impact and color show. It can bloom over 100 days in our summer heat, and has great disease resistance. Its compact habit keeps the canopy full and is great as a tree or large shrub. It has amazing foliage as well, starting off as lime green in spring, to dark forest green in summer, and the fall color is a magical red & orange mix. Because it's a semi-dwarf, it can be a great focal piece in a large container and makes an excellent patio tree. Hopi is also one of the most cold hardy of all the crepe myrtles, tolerating temperatures as low as -20 degrees. Truly one of the best all around crepe myrtles, and my favorite of all."
TARYN RUESCH, Hampton Store Manager
"My favorite Crepe Myrtle is Natchez. It is my favorite because of its' dark cinnamon bark that exfoliates as it gets older, giving the structure of the tree interest even when defoliated during the Winter months. It is a small tree, reaching around 20-25' tall. Even in smaller yards a Natchez is a beautiful specimen. The leaves turn a beautiful orange/bronze color during the Fall before the leaves drop completely and the flowers are a crisp cool white, very showy during the hot Summer months."
BILL KIDD, Vice President of Purchasing
"It's definitely the Muskogee. It is fast growing, actually one the the fastest growers and it blooms for a very long time. The city of Hampton has lots of these beauties planted throughout the landscape and they look amazing planted in groups. Muskogee will grow to about 30 to 35 feet making it an ideal small tree to provide summer shade. I enjoy Muskogee's delicate lavendar blooms each summer!"