rulebreaking 101 – crape myrtle

Sneak Peek

I enjoy breaking rules when something good comes of it. One of my hardest and fastest rules is to never collect a tree twice. Well ….

Rulebreaking 101 – Crape Myrtle

And so, way back in 2012 I was invited to collect some white Crape myrtles from a commercial growing field. The trees were available primarily because their trunks were not straight enough (the anti-bonsai approach to the landscape, right?). Not that they were all twisty-turny, they just had some low trunk movement which made them fair game for bonsai. Seeing as how each had a trunk base of 5-6″, and Crape myrtle wood is one of the absolute toughest you’ll ever try to saw, I limited myself to five specimens.

I brought them home and potted them up. A couple failed to bud all the way up and down the trunk. One I planted out – this one – and the second stayed in its pot and has grown its way into the ground; I’ll be lifting it next spring. The others I sold.

So I’ve been mowing around this specimen for years now, and as time has gone on it’s started to take on some interest as a very stout kinda guy. The more I’ve studied it, the more it has started to intrigue me. Finally, I decided to break one of my most sacred rules: never collect a tree twice.




Don’t let this picture fool you – the sawing and lifting was awesome and lengthy! It took me a couple of battery packs to get to this stage.

This is the nebari check before filling in the pot. This tree has some killer roots – should I say to die for? Is that redundant?

I could only think “Ogre” at this point. This tree definitely needs a name. Any ideas?

That trunk under the mouth of the tree technically makes it a clump – not to mention making it somewhat obscene. It only lasted a day.




Here we are the next day, after the final editing. This takes the tree out of the clump category pretty well. I think I can work with the two leaders on this one, sumo-style. I can also eliminate one and go for a single trunk line. Plenty of time to decide.

Here’s another view of the tree. Could this be the front? It looks like I’ve got a couple of choices, so no need to make any decisions now. Besides, who re-collects a tree at this time of the year? That’s another rule I managed to break this go-round. But here’s the secret: Crape myrtles are a different breed. I don’t know of any species that roots as exorbitantly as Crapes. So that gives me a lot of confidence, considering that we have a couple of months until our first frost.

By way of scale, the trunk on this specimen measures 7-8″ across at the soil. The root spread is a good 12″.

I spotted the a couple of trunk buds today, meaning I just might’ve gotten away with breaking another rule or two!