A Crape Myrtle Project

johng

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About 18 years ago my buddy Ken took me to an old nursery that specialized in conifers and other unusual species (he had been going since the mid 70s). Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, the nursery was very run down and had long since been out of business...but there were still some great finds to be had as many trees were still in containers or had escaped into the ground. Since then, he and I have made many trips but long about 6-8 years ago most all that was left was sold in mass to another nursery. Now, the only things that remain are difficult to get to in the mass of weeds, briars and trees that have taken over and for the most part very large.

This spring we decided to take visit...we were searching for some Crape Myrtles that we remembered. Deep in the underbrush...through 15 yards of stickers and thorns this is what we found...



Mainly the Natchez variety but several very large CM all long since growing out of their pots and grow bags into the ground. After a pretty good while of fighting to get one out of the ground this is what I came home with. Unfortunately we only came home with one after running out of battery power for the saws as well as human power:) I guess it was at least 30' tall.

since this tree had been in a grow bag for 30 years it had a lot of small roots where the bag had been. It has a pretty outstanding base but as you can see its is going to need more surgery if it is ever going into a bonsai pot.

So, out came the tools and the surgery commenced.

It took about as long to whittle this tree down as it did to get it out of the ground. Once finished I prepared a half whiskey barrel liner as the pot and got it settled in.

I'm happy to report that the trees is doing great and has thrown buds all over the remaining trunk.
This pic is from about 2 weeks ago...the new growth has already extend to nearly 2 ft and new buds continue to emerge. To make sure that the large wounds began their covering process effectively I used cut paste on the edges of all the large wounds...the wounds have already begun to cover...I suspect that in 2-3 years with some vigorous growth they will completely cover over.



I will continue to add more pics as this tree develops over time.
Thanks,
John
 

kytombonsai

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John, The tree has an amazing trunk. What a find. I used to know of a couple old nurseries that closed down that I will have to drive by and see if anything is left.

Tom
 

RyanFrye

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Hi John,

Great find and material. Be sure to keep us updated. I too love crape myrtles and will look forward to your updates.

Thanks for posting this informative thread.
 

milehigh_7

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I just love the bark on Crapes. Looks like you all had great success on this so far. I can't wait to see the progression. Thanks for posting.
 

greerhw

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For those of you that have never been to the deep south, Crape's are trees. Savanna, Ga. has some of the best I've ever seen. I do have a question, do the one's that are bonsai try to bloom and if so do you remove the buds so that the energy goes into the foliage.

Harry
 

noissee

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If they are healthy you can let them bloom. People around here say to not let them put out seed though.
 

kytombonsai

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I have a CM that I bought from Lotus about 10 years ago. The tree blooms every year without fail. The flower is a lavender color. You can't trim them back too much until they start flowering or you cut a lot of the flower buds off. They bloom on new growth. A buddy of mine bought one a few weeks after I did from the same batch and has never seen a flower. I don't know what he is doing different than I am but he keeps it mainly for the bark. I will post a pic when it starts blooming. I have also been told that you can see a skull at the bottom of the front trunk.

Tom
 

greerhw

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I have 6 in my yard as landscaping, they are the only thing that looks good in August when the temps reach 100 and more daily.

Harry
 

milehigh_7

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Loads of them used in landscaping here as well. I have two 'dynamite' crapes in pond baskets and about 8 cuttings of an unknown variety, all doing well.

The dynamite are getting ready to bloom. They are a brilliant red.
 

Yamadori

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John, I look forward to updates on this tree. It will be a great thread. Thanks for posting.

Can anyone tell me when is the best time to carve on a crepe? My daughter got one that needs carving.
 

RyanFrye

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John, I look forward to updates on this tree. It will be a great thread. Thanks for posting.

Can anyone tell me when is the best time to carve on a crepe? My daughter got one that needs carving.
I'm assuming you're carving to heel wounds :confused:(Jin and Shari don't work on crapes. Although a hollowed trunk would be cool.)....I would say do any carving in late winter right before the buds start to pop. You'll get maximum healing from the new growth.
 

johng

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I :confused:(Jin and Shari don't work on crapes. Although a hollowed trunk would be cool.)....
Don't tell the Chinese;)...I have seen some pretty spectacular specimens from China in photos and many had dead areas and hollows in the trunks. On the other hand, I have also seen a few that heal over wounds very well and quickly.

In terms of blooming, I hope that this tree will have the scale to support the extended growth necessary for blooms... I have some dwarf cultivars that bloom every summer and maintain there scale but this tree is a standard and as such the blooms are typically at the end of 2-3' long sprouts of new growth. All I can do hope for the best:)
J
 

RyanFrye

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Don't tell the Chinese;)...I have seen some pretty spectacular specimens from China in photos and many had dead areas and hollows in the trunks.
Um....I think you mis-understood me:D. I have seen hollowed trunk crape specimens that look great. I was making the point that it's the jin and shari that I don't think works. For one reason it doesn't make sense aesthetically and for another any jins created would rot off and any shari created would either heal over quickly or rot out to become a hollowed trunk.
 

RyanFrye

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In terms of blooming, I hope that this tree will have the scale to support the extended growth necessary for blooms...
I also have a rather large crape myrtle (here: http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1668 ) and I don't think that it would create flowers within the design. I have considered grafting dwarf crape myrtle onto some of the branches. I say SOME and not all because I know of someone who had a large crape myrtle and replaced all of it's own branching with that of a dwarf cultivar. He wouldn't allow any new growth that wasn't of the dwarf grafts. As a result the tree died because the dwarf cultivar couldn't support the tree.
 

BUBBAFRGA

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For those of you that have never been to the deep south, Crape's are trees. Savanna, Ga. has some of the best I've ever seen. I do have a question, do the one's that are bonsai try to bloom and if so do you remove the buds so that the energy goes into the foliage.

Harry
What was an oki doing in my part of the woods?
Savannah, GA is where one of my study groups meet.

When you have 100 + year old trees they do start to look great....if you can keep those UGA Ag graduates away from them.....They were told that you cut them back hard you get 20-30% more blooms the next year, but it is not an natural look for the trees /shrub, I can do without the addtional blooms and have a better looking tree.

I don't have any full size ones as bonsai but I do have couple of the Chicksaw var. that I do let bloom and they normal bloom in my area in late june until august. I do remove the blooms after they fade to help reduce stress from making seeds.
 

BUBBAFRGA

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John,

Hope you are going back for the red bark one......the color would look great.
 

johng

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John,

Hope you are going back for the red bark one......the color would look great.
Absolutely...The cinnamon colored bark on the Natchez variety is quite nice! The next one that comes out has to be my buddy's since he worked so hard to help me get the first one. If I am not mistaken all that is left is the Natchez.
John
 

greerhw

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What was an oki doing in my part of the woods?
Savannah, GA is where one of my study groups meet.

When you have 100 + year old trees they do start to look great....if you can keep those UGA Ag graduates away from them.....They were told that you cut them back hard you get 20-30% more blooms the next year, but it is not an natural look for the trees /shrub, I can do without the addtional blooms and have a better looking tree.

I don't have any full size ones as bonsai but I do have couple of the Chicksaw var. that I do let bloom and they normal bloom in my area in late june until august. I do remove the blooms after they fade to help reduce stress from making seeds.
My wife read "The Book", plus we were on one of our Civil War trips, I'm glad Sherman spared it, beautiful place to visit.
Harry
 
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