My son and I went to see Prince last night at our local indoor arena, the RBC Center, in Raleigh, NC. The venue is the home of the Carolina Hurricanes, our 2006 Stanley Cup winning NHL hockey team, NCSU men’s basketball and a lot of big name concerts that appear in our area.
The show was fantastic – Prince is a genre all his own; funky, sexy, can’t sit still music. He’s a prolific songwriter whose tunes have launched and/or advanced dozens of careers over the 30+ years he’s been creating music. A singer, songwriter, keyboardist, guitarist and audience charmer, he’s got the goods and deserves all the accolades he gets, and then some. But I digress……..
While Mike and I waited outside for the doors to open, I couldn’t help but notice evidence of a crime of monumental proportions that, had Prince seen it, I’m sure he would have written something into his contract that this practice had to stop and stop right now! I know he’s a vegan and is very concerned about the treatment of animals. How could he not be shocked and sickened at the sight of so many innocent crape myrtles being mutilated just outside the doors of his memorable show.
This is what’s been done to the hundreds of Crape Myrtles that line both sides of the sidewalk leading to the East entrance to the arena. I can only imagine that there is another crime scene equally horrific at the other entrances as well.
Here’s a longer, but still partial, view……….
There’s no need to treat these poor, defenseless trees this way. First of all, trees are most beautiful when they are left to grow in their natural state. We humans are notorious for wanting to improve upon what nature creates and in some limited capacity, that’s ok. If a crape myrtle or any other tree has dead, damaged or diseased branches, crossing branches, branches pointing in the wrong direction, they are ok to prune. No arborist or horticulturist is going to argue with that.
This happens in neighborhoods across the south, here and there. What’s terrible about this particular instance is that it’s such a public venue attracting visitors from places outside our city. It says, “If this is how the professional landscapers at the RBC Center prune their Crape Myrtles, that’s the way I should do it, too” to every visitor who passes the crime scene. Why would they think otherwise?
Some people prune because the trees are getting too big for the area in which they were planted. That’s because the wrong variety was chosen when the landscape was designed or the plants were chosen. Pruning for that reason just leads to years of similar brutality. In this case, they’ve planted too many. Just looking at the photos tells me that one line of trees could have been used there easily, but perhaps they were in HGTV mode – make it look full and mature as soon as humanly possible, no matter what happens to the poor plants.
One of the best attributes of the crape myrtle is it’s bark, particularly noticeable during the leafless season. It’s natural branching is also quite lovely, but this pruning method creates an unnatural (hideous) appearance. I’ll bet $50 when you look at the crime scene photos above, you’re not admiring the bark or the branching! What this method does is promote growth, but not the kind that helps the tree or the landscape in which it lives. It causes thin, spindly branches to sprout out of the cut ends of what’s left of the original branches and they’re too weak to support a good bloom.
I’m certainly not the first blogger to write about crape murder, and I won’t be the last. Since the crime wave continues unabated and unabashed, obviously we still have work to do!
Here’s a blog written by Southern Living’s Grumpy Gardener, on how to prune a crape myrtle properly. There is also, in the comment section, a how-to on reversing a previous crime, so it’s not the end of the world if you’ve committed crape murder in your past. Sometimes all it takes to make amends is a change in behavior – we will gladly forgive you for all past transgressions if you just promise to never do it again.
Pruning is one of those if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it kind of activities. Lose the tools, sit back and enjoy the natural shape and habit of the plant kingdom’s most lovely and persistent treasures – our trees. Save your strength for weeding!
A very Happy Spring is my sincere wish for you – I’ll be back soon with an update on how the hens are faring and there will be lots of garden news in upcoming posts!