It’s murder season in Atlanta. The corpses can be seen on the sides of roads everywhere, stumped arms raised to gray winter skies. No, I’m not talking about humans but the truly helpless crepe myrtles that Atlantans mistakenly think they need to cut down to stumpy remains every winter. The idea is that the flowers will bloom even fuller in the spring, but even venerated Georgia gardener Walter Reeves says to put down the hatchet. The extreme cutting-back is apparently not just an ugly winter site, but bad for the trees.
The first time Alex saw this she called it “Dawn of the Dead-looking Trees.” She still wasn’t sold on Atlanta and this was just another notch in her list of things to dislike. In LA, the city would send crews out to dismember trees in the common areas between curb and sidewalk, which was a horrible site, but hey, that was the city doing what cities do. This crepe murder was being committed by the people… or at least the people’s gardeners.
“Just wait until spring,” I promised Alex. “It’ll be glorious. These stumps will be barely visible through the bright flowers.” “Yeah, but how long do I have to see this carnage?” Alex asked. “Not long. Soon enough spring will spring, and you’ll see yellow and white Daffodils, white, and purple and pink Dogwoods, and white Bradford Pears that drop their flower petals in the breeze like springtime snow.” “I thought it never snowed in Atlanta,” she joked, mimicking one of my infamous lines I’d given her to sell her on this move.
Unfortunately, our first couple of winters here we saw historic lows and historic snows. It was below freezing night and day for months. Alex didn’t even own a proper winter jacket other than a ski parka when we moved here from LA. A winter jacket there was more a fashion accessory than a fashion necessity.
We now have proper winter clothes, and two un-butchered crepe myrtles placed prominently near the street on either side of our driveway entrance (Alex’s way of showing the neighborhood how pretty these things can be when they’re not annually murdered). Hopefully, whoever gets this house after us will let the trees grow as we will. Maybe we should put that in our real estate rider when we sell… we’ll even throw in some gently-used winter clothes as an added bonus.