Hey Myrtle!

A few weeks ago we were visiting our daughter in Maryland and she and I spent some time trimming back a crepe myrtle tree that had grown to the point that it was banging against the side of the house near her second floor bedroom.

The episode caused me to reflect on planting the tree sapling as part of composing a Japanese garden 25(?) years ago.  Though that particular gardening bug did not really take hold of me in practice I maintain a continued fascination with Japanese gardens and visit them whenever I can, but all the stuff I planted and installed way back then is still there.  Even the bamboo, alas.

When felling the sections of the now-giant crepe myrtle — I have never really figured out if it is a shrubbish tree or a tree-ish shrub, I guess it depends on the growing conditions and those at this location must be superb as the two crepe myrtles there have grown to be taller than a two-story house– I noted that some of the branches were the size of my thigh, certainly large enough to harvest for lumber, most particularly for carved spoons and such.  I have never used crepe myrtle wood for anything except brush fires in the burn barrel, but perhaps now is the time to experiment.  My only hesitancy is that I have noticed a contact dermatitis inflammation almost every time I trim the trees which makes me wonder if its sap is an allergen or toxin especially given my reaction to urushiol, the allergen in poison ivy/oak/sumac and the basis for oriental lacquerwork.

Gotta check that issue out.  I’ll let you know what I find out.