Southern murder rate up
Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 8:01 pm
By: By Jimmy Williams
The murder rate south of the Mason-Dixon line continues to explode exponentially. This is because the winter hardiness of crape myrtles happens to just about coincide with that demarcation.
While far more humans are being murdered per capita in places like Chicago and Detroit, the homicide rate of crape myrtles in the South more than offsets our shortage of Home sapiens icings. We have fewer Mafia but more plant butchers.
As you are aware (or maybe not aware), I have railed ad nauseum about crape murder, the topping off of otherwise healthy and attractive crape myrtles by ignorant or misled “gardeners.”
A few weeks ago, I paid a visit to friends the Rev. Paul and Peggy Veazey, at their beautiful garden on the Dresden highway. Peggy has a green thumb and had offered to root for me some cuttings of Dragon Wing Red begonias which I had in a hanging basket last summer. She took the basket before frost and made cuttings from the mother plants during the winter. Young plants of Dragon Wing can set you back up to $4 or more, so the Scotch in me saw an attractive offer.
She had the cuttings all ready, potted up individually in three-inch pots and ready to go into the garden. They are well ensconced as we speak.
However, while looking over her healthy plantings of Knockout roses, Japanese maples, hollies, lush and heavy blooming verbena (in April yet), and on and on, I was aghast to look on the sickening sight of one of the most heinous cases of crape murder that I have ever witnessed. It would turn a weak stomach of anyone who had never been exposed to such gore.
The trees in question are some several years old, and had just about reached the epitome of what a crape myrtle’s frame should exhibit. The sinuous trunks, one of the best of many good features of crape myrtles, had been limbed up, under my tutelage, for several years, exposing the gleaming cinnamon and gray exfoliating bark. The crown of the trees had reached just about where they should be, at the eaves of the house, and were not so close to its walls to necessitate cutting back from behind. They could have grown indefinitely upward and become more beautiful each year.
But Ichabod! (Hebrew: “The glory is gone.”) What to my wondering eyes should appear but slashed off stubs some eight feet from the ground, and the resulting mass of sappy second-growth destined to turn into a dense thicket of kindling sticks. The structure of the trees will take years to recover, if it ever does.
Peggy, who is (otherwise) an accomplished gardener, and assistant Paul, could see the despondency in my eyes and both turned sheepishly away.
“Why, oh why?” I cried. They hem-hawed for a while and offered a pitiful, “Well, they were too tall.”
“Too tall for what?” I screamed, beating my chest and tearing my robe.
“Well,” Peggy explained, “they were going to get taller than the house.”
I pointed to a 75-foot maple nearby and retorted, “Duh.”
A while later at church, Paul and Peggy cornered me and admitted they had undergone some grief therapy and become reconciled to the fact their crape myrtles would never be the same again. As a matter of fact, Peggy said she was employing an assistant (guess who?) with a tractor to pull them out.
They’ll probably replace them with Bradford pears.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 6.7.11
Jimmy Williams, The Garden Path