DALLAS — The Crape Myrtle Society of America will hold its formation meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday (June 28) at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center in Dallas.
“I can’t imagine in my wildest dream why a society for crape myrtles doesn’t exist,” said Neil Sperry, publisher of Neil Sperry’s Gardens and organizer of the founding meeting. “There are several societies for lesser-known plants. This was just a natural.”
Anyone interested in becoming a charter member or learning more about the flowering shrub is invited to attend the meeting free of charge. The meeting will be held at the Pavilion Auditorium at the center, located at 17360 Coit Road, just north of the Campbell Road cross street.
“There will be plenty for everybody, whether you’re a serious crape myrtle enthusiast, a grower, or just a homeowner who wants to make the right choices,” said Sperry. Discussion of the membership dues, organizational structure and the election of officers also will take place that evening.
The keynote speaker will be Dr. Gary Knox, research horticulturist with the University of Florida, who will detail the development of crape myrtles through history. Dr. Steve George, Extension horticulturist at Texas A&M Dallas, along with Dr. Raul Cabrera, Experiment Station horticulture researcher at Texas A&M Dallas, will give an update on the research being done at A&M. Sperry also will be speaking on the progress of the Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney.
“The crape myrtle is the state shrub of Texas. A lot of people don’t know that,” said Cabrera.
At the event, Cabrera will introduce the new Crape Myrtle Web site, which he hopes will become a world-wide educational tool.
“A major feature is a searchable database containing information and pictures on the majority of crape myrtle varieties available in the United States,” Cabrera said. “Say you want a lavender flower on a shrub that is no larger than 10 feet tall when mature; the data base will come up with all the varieties that fit your description.” That Web site can be found at http://dallas.tamu.edu/woody/cmyrtle/index.html.
The event is being held in conjunction with Texas A&M University and The Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney Foundation. The two organizations are partnering to establish “The World Collection” of crape myrtles in the public areas and medians of the city of McKinney, as well as the Texas A&M Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Dallas.
Currently, there are more than 300 varieties (cultivars) of crape myrtles in the nursery industry worldwide, with more being introduced each year.
The McKinney effort is expected to see the planting of more than 50,000 crape myrtle plants in that city in the next 10 years. Already there is a seven-mile span of the flowering shrub in McKinney.
The collection at the A&M-Dallas facility will be the only collection of its kind in the world, with all the varieties being grown, compared and documented side by side. Data will be kept on many different subjects, including dates of first and last bloom, specific flower color and fall foliage color, mature sizes of plants, winter hardiness, bark character and insect and disease resistance.
“Our hope is that anytime someone wants to know the very greatest detail about the crape myrtle, they’ll go to the Society for answers. They will be the true crape myrtle enthusiasts,” said Sperry.
For more information on the formation of the Crape Myrtle Society of America, go to the Web at http://neilsperry.com.