Amy's Landscape

Views from the Florida Landscape

The Pruning of Me and the Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtles are abundant in the South, their showy poms on display with great regularity from spring to fall in every shade of vibrant purple through delicate pink imaginable, even to lacy whites.  Yet every winter, no matter how mild, these proud giants are brought to naught, stripped of their elegant beauty and barely a leaf remains, mere naked frames before the winter scene.

The prudent gardener knows, though, that before the first spring’s tender leaf appears, major surgery must be performed.  Across the Florida landscape, gardeners enact what appears to be a violent attack upon these vulnerable beauties, severely pruning them back to nearly half their size, down to meager sticks rising a few feet from the ground.

How could this process be anything but cruel?  Doesn’t the gardener know what these grand ladies have already endured, stripped and laid bare before the world in humiliation?  Why chop down such meager remains when surely the leaves will return and all will be well once again?

Yet those who spare their Crepe Myrtles this mortification will find them spindly and weak throughout the coming year.  Poms will return but thinner, less bountiful.  It turns out the severe pruning promotes, and in fact ensures, new growth.  And not only new growth but stronger branches, more abundant leaves, denser poms.

Within just a few weeks of this pruning holocaust these genteel lovelies sprout forth multiple branches and leafy decor almost overnight.

Often I think of myself as the Crepe Myrtle and our Father as the Master Gardener.  How I detest his pruning, the agony of the cutting, the sorrow of the loss of the branches he cuts away.  How often has he called me to give someone up, to lose something I cherished, and I begged him not to love me enough to do the work?

At the time, it’s quite impossible to believe his surgery could ever be a good thing.  Yet later, after the tears have fallen and I’ve laid down the fight, I look back to see he didn’t take anything I didn’t need to lose.

I learned something I needed to find out.  I‘m enriched with more understanding, compassion, wisdom than I had before the pruning began.   I, like the Crepe Myrtle, am stronger and more beautiful for his blade, cutting away dead wood I didn’t even know needed to be removed.

What’s your dead wood; what’s the part you’re hanging  onto?  Are you allowing God to prune off the dead wood of your life or holding on to what you‘ve got, willing to settle for the spindly life you have because it’s what you’re used to, when he’s offering new growth and promise of a more vibrant life? Let something go today, something or someone you’ve be clinging to, and dare to believe God loves you enough to do something different, for which you’ll be richer in a sense you hadn’t even seen before.

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January 27, 2012 - Posted by | Environment, Florida Outdoors, Gardening, God in the everyday, Landscaping, Nature, Relationships | , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. I won’t comment on the religious analogy you make, but almost everything you said about crape myrtles is incorrect. First of all crape myrtles outshine many other trees during the winter. Their bark peels away revealing colors from light green to deep brown. Also, a properly pruned crape will exhibit a beautiful and elegant branch structure.

    The pruning you seem to think so highly of is actually referred to as “crape murder” by many. It is detrimental to the health and beauty of the tree. Despite what you have written, the branches that grow back after this incorrect pruning are also weaker, thinner, and much less attractive than those on a properly pruned tree. A properly pruned tree will be healthier, more aesthetically pleasing, beautiful throughout the year, will have more flowers, and will be less vulnerable to pest attack.

    A quick Internet search will actually verify all of this, so feel free not to take my word for it, but you might want to find something else to compare yourself to.

    Billy M.

    Comment by Billy | July 18, 2012 | Reply

    • Hi Billy,

      Thanks for your comments and point of view. I don’t know what state you’re from but we’re in Florida with over 30 years of experience planting hundreds of crepe myrtles in a four county area.

      Frankly, experience, not internet searches, bears out my comments, and I stand behind what I said, as I sit here typing from a desk overlooking a landscape with over 20 profusely-blooming crepes in my yard.

      Just a few months ago we dotingly pruned off the excess branches, fertilized our treasured ladies and now have outstanding poms of fuchsia, salmon, white, lavender, etc. to show for the perspiration-producing efforts.

      While it’s possible to ignore crepe myrtles, allowing them to grow into large and wild trees relatively successfully, most landscapers prefer the splendor of these showy beauties at a maximum height of 10-13′. That’s a gardener’s prerogative and won’t happen without hard work in the efforts of pruning.

      While I agree pruning sometimes feels and looks like murder, it’s actually a time consuming and loving effort on the part of the gardener and the Creator, to remove excess and dead wood which spurs new growth. Perhaps you don’t have any dead wood on your crepes or in your life, but my crepes and I have certainly benefitted from the changes, and the new growth spurred by the humility of it all.

      Thanks for stopping in!

      Comment by Amy | July 19, 2012 | Reply

      • Your thanks seems very disingenuous after you have deleted my further comments. Obviously the lengths some people will go to in order to sound like they know what they are talking about are further than others, but with a religious theme in your writing it does come off hypocritical.

        Comment by Billy | August 30, 2012

      • Hello again Billy,

        Thanks for coming back. Let me take a moment to clarify a few things. This is called “Amy’s Landscape” for a reason: because it’s AMY’S LANDSCAPE, not Billy’s Landscape. If you want to pontificate endlessly about crepe myrtles, perhaps your own horticulture blog might be a better place for you. But here at “Amy’s Landscape”, I keep or delete any content I care to, because after all, it’s my blog, not yours.

        I did indeed read your second response, but, as I was leaving town for a while and didn’t have time to rejoin, I didn’t want an invective that didn’t reflect my views to sit there, because once again, it’s my blog, for my views, not yours.

        Having said that, I did note in your second response that you stated new growth does not grow on dead wood, or something to that effect, and that’s my point exactly, not only for crepe myrtles but in the spiritual realm as well.

        I did thank you for your first trip to my blog, and I still do. Why do you find it hypocritical that I delete a lengthy second response with which I don’t agree or that misses the point of the blog entirely?

        Perhaps you’re one of those people who believes Christians should be faultless and continually strives to find a flaw, just so you can chide us for our lack of perfection. You won’t have to look far with me: flaws abound. As Jesus said, it’s the sick who understand they need a doctor, and I know what I am. That’s precisely why I need a Savior, because I miss the mark, of the best I should be, on a regular basis. The Creator offers more for me than I can muster for myself, by myself, and that’s why I pursue him, and thank him for pursuing me.

        And that’s exactly what this blog is all about. Because as you can tell from my writings, it’s not really just about bushes or trees but the Creator and the created; the relationship between us, and how often I see God’s transformation of me, in my interactions with my beloved Florida landscape.

        I do know what I’m talking about because I’m talking about my experiences, not only as a Florida gardener of over three decades, but as a follower of the Creator for just a bit longer than that.

        I will say your points about the smooth, lovely, almost skin-like bark of certain species of crepe myrtles are well taken. We were just in Savannah and the particular type of crepe myrtles they plant there were over 30 feet tall with outstandingly delicate trunks. I don’t know what they look like in winter but it’s obvious they aren’t often pruned and yet still manage to thrive abundantly. Perhaps it’s the Georgia clay or just that particular type of myrtle but they even used them to adorn the I-95 median and they were outstanding in beauty and form. Florida should take note!

        Here in our Florida home landscapes, 6-10’ maximum heights are desired and decades of experience proves pruning encourages their bounteous growth and keeps them flourishing at a height we, as gardeners, deem desirable.

        God’s pruning of my old dead wood keeps me moving forward too, in new ways and down unique avenues I had never even considered, and that’s a good thing, even though I often lack appreciation for it in the moment. Pruning encourages positive, new growth, not only for the crepe myrtle but also for humans.

        Last point I’ll make: there is no “religious theme” here, to my blog, my writing or my life. We don’t do religion in Amy’s Landscape. Religion is for pompous humans who think they can impress God and each other with their rules and rituals. I don’t do religion, and I never will because it’s a pridefully pathetic substitute for a relationship with a living Creator who has a plan for his creation, and me as part of it.

        So once again I’ll say, thanks for stopping in Billy. You can take that as genuine or not; up to you. If something I’ve said about God inspires you to believe he cares about you also and wants to interact with you, that’s what this blog is all about. And yes, my experience with nature and plants is here for you too, for what it’s worth.

        Comment by Amy | September 6, 2012


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