Lagerstroemia indica (left), otherwise known as crepe myrtle (or crape myrtle), could be considered something out of the ordinary, and yet it is a magnificent shrub or small tree that has the Award of Garden Merit, and with good reason. At this time of year it is smothered in crinkled, crepey-looking flowers (hence the common name) about 2cm (⅘in) wide individually, held in large groups (panicles). At a distance the effect is a cloud of pink, and close up the ruffled petals are extremely pretty.
But it isn’t only the flowers that make this plant special. It has an open, multi-stemmed habit with beautiful, peeling bark, extending the season of interest and making it even more worthy as a garden plant. Also, its small dark green leaves change to yellow and orange in autumn.
At Wisley we show this plant off in a sheltered location by the old brick arch at the corner of the Laboratory building and the Canal (the arch leads through to the toilets), so it’s easy to find. It thrives with the extra protection the wall gives it over winter. Its great as a single specimen and equally happy in company – we have cultivars in the Mixed Borders (left).
If you have a similar spot then consider Lagerstoemia indica or one of its many cultivars (flowers come in white, pink, crimson or purple), and enjoy this more unusual lovely garden plant.