Question: Is it crapemyrtle or crepemyrtle?

Answer: If you are from the South, especially the deep South, it is crepemyrtle. Everyone else, including the American Horticultural Society, spells it crapemyrtle. The word ‘crepe’ is used in reference to its paper-thin flower petals. A brief review of its spelling in my reference books confirms that crapemyrtle is the dominant spelling. With that said, the magazine Southern Living and most Southern garden writers stick to crepemyrtle. Most all references indicate this tree is from China. It was a favorite of the Tang Dynasty from 618-906. Therefore, Marco Polo surely saw the “Tree of 100 days” that refers to its bloom period when he traveled throughout China. I was hoping to see a crapemytle in bloom on the Netflix series Marco Polo. But my wife put a stop to that after watching the first episode and thus ended my quest for historical accuracy in the movies. If you saw this series you understand why she nixed it.

I found one reference that said George Washington received 200 seeds from George Barclay in 1799. Another reference said it was introduced into Charleston, S.C. in 1759 by way of England. Regardless of its point of entry into the US, this tree has become a symbol of the South and has stood the test of time. Both spellings are correct in my eyes.

 

Question: Our hydrangeas have grown huge over the summer and the limbs are weighted down by old flower blossoms. Can I prune this shrub now?

Answer: The garden type hydrangeas, including the common pink or blue varieties and the remontant varieties such as ‘Endless Summer,’ produce flower buds during the summer for next year. Therefore, do not be too heavy-handed with the pruners or you will remove next year's flower blossoms. At this time of the year, pruning should be restricted to removing the spent flower blossoms and a light shaping of this bush.

 

Question: One of our large oak trees just died in the last few weeks. Is this something that I should be concerned about and spreading to my other trees?

Answer: It is not unusual to for trees to die in late summer. One day they appear to be healthy and within weeks the leaves dry up. Close examination often reveals why. The most common cause is from a recent lightning strike or one that occurred years ago. The next culprit I look for is Armillaria (Shoestring) root rot. This shows up under the bark, near the stump, and on the roots. It takes a little digging to find this one. After this I look for hypoxylon canker. This disease usually finishes off weak and declining trees. Other causes of death can range from grading changes or damaged roots that lead to infections from wood decaying organisms. Last but not least, it just may have been its time. Therefore, the causes of death can be many. It takes a little detective work to figure it out. Generally speaking, the death of your tree does not foretell a widespread disease epidemic and your other trees should be just fine.

 

MASTER GARDENER Q&A

If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, there will be an inquiry session on Sept. 5 in the Agricultural Building, 209 N. Graham Hopedale Road in Burlington at 9 a.m. This is a prelude to the classes beginning in 2019. Call the Cooperative Extension Service at 336-570-6740 for further information.

 

PICNIC TABLES

Finding all-pressure-treated wood picnic tables has become a thing of the past. Today's versions only come with treated legs and not tops. If you know of any backyard carpenters that are selling fully treated wood picnic tables, please send me their contact information via my email address. Thanks.

 

Rett Davis is a retired Alamance County Extension Director and certified arborist. You can contact him at Rett_Davis@ncsu.edu