Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
Crape myrtles are usually associated with the warmer areas of the U.S.—they are common in the elegant gardens of Charleston and Savannah—but they can thrive further north, even here in the Bronx.
A beautiful example is Lagerstroemia ‘Natchez,’ a hybrid crape myrtle developed by the National Arboretum in Washington D.C. A fine specimen can be seen in front of Wave Hill House.
It is attractive throughout the year, with masses of white flowers in late summer and lovely, copper-tinted foliage in fall. In winter, when the main stems and branches are more noticeable, the bark glows a warm cinnamon and is particularly beautiful when set off against a blanket of snow.
Most crape myrtle species are native to the Indian subcontinent and southeastern Asia. This cultivar (‘Natchez’) is a hybrid between Lagerstroemia indica and L. fauriei.