Semi-Dwarf Crape Myrtle: Early Bird Lavender

Two beautiful lavender Early Bird Crape myrtles bloom in the garden border with woven garden chairs nearby.
Woven garden chairs sit in front of border with lavender crape myrtles, sedums and conifers.

Three years ago, in an effort to introduce more seasonal blooming shrubs into my small landscape, I fell upon the EARLY BIRD Series of Crape Myrtles...semi-dwarf crape myrtles that promise to bloom earlier than older varieties producing intense color during the hottest part of summer. I found my EARLY BIRD Lavender at Home Depot as part of the SOUTHERN LIVING PLANT COLLECTION; on-line shoppers can find them at Wilson's Brothers Gardens.

Intense hues of massed Early Bird Crape Myrtles bloom in front of clipped dwarf youpon hollies.
Lavender Early Bird Crape Myrtles from Wilson Brothers website.
Close up of an Early Bird Lavender bloom.
Intricate details of this lavender beauty on each bud and bloom are sure to please.

In my experience, it does not bloom heavily until mid-late June, possibly because of its location; more probably because it is just now reaching true maturity,  and the blooms are coming in greater numbers. Mature height is 5-8', 4-6' wide; blooms its head off for three months and is hardy zones 7-10. The collection offers three colors: lavender, pink and white. Watch this SOUTHERN LIVING COLLECTION youtube video (here) to see images of each color.

Arching branches of lavender crape myrtle.
Color can appear pink to purple to lavender depending on time of day and what it is planted with.
Heat and drought tolerant, unfinicky about soil (provided it gets good drainage), deer and disease resistant (plant in full sun with a modicum of good air circulation to prevent powder mildew), handsome year round. What more could you ask? Well, I did ask, and here was Mother Nature's response:

Vignette of Silverado Sage topiary, lavender crape myrtles, and succulents.
A Silverado Sage topiary blooms in front of two Early Bird Crapes with sedum 'Autumn Joy' in the foreground.

Perfect Color Echoes

I am a gal who can faint over a great color echo in the garden. And in my garden, the Early Bird Crape Myrtle in Lavender coupled with Echinacea Purpurea and the like-colored blooms on my Silverado Sage topiary are truly swoon worthy. Happy circumstance that they all like the same growing conditions and play well together.

Foreground of a lavender crape blossom with purple coneflower behind.
Perfect color echo between purple coneflower and lavender crape myrtle.
Nice contrast in upright form of the topiary and arching habit of crape myrtles behind.
Notice how the intensity and hue of the color changes with the light. Here looking almost fuchsia ....
Velvety gray foliage and pink flowers on Silverado Sage topiary.
and in the morning light, looking pale lavender-blue.
Velvety gray foliage and pink flowers on Silverado Sage topiary.
Beautiful gray foliage of Texas Sage with hot pink blooms.
Velvety gray foliage and pink flowers on Silverado Sage topiary.
I love the dome-shaped head of a topiary.
Velvety gray foliage and pink flowers on Silverado Sage topiary.
The textures of both leaf and bloom are soft and velvety.

Shade for what is planted beneath its canopy

This,  I must tell you, is quite an unexpected benefit that did not reveal itself to me until this year, when the crape myrtles' height was sufficient to make a difference. Somewhat behind and in between these two crapes (it is a rather deep garden border) are three peonies that bloom a bit in spring, and heretofore, began to fry as soon as the heat set in. I have debated taking them out because they look so hideous in late summer... (and they face East....for us Okies, generally one of the more coveted exposures in the garden...). But as of this morning, the peony foliage looked just fine, thank you very much, as the arching branches of the crapes give them just the right amount of protection from the harsh sun. These sun-loving lavender beauties bask in the intense light and heat, happily taking the hit for the peony foliage below (that still get enough light and air to keep them satisfied.)

Crape Myrtle bloom hovers over peony foliage.
Notice the unblemished peony foliage below the lavender flower head.
When I shape and prune the crape myrtles in late winter/early spring (as the peonies begin to flush out and come into their own blooming season) , I will take the crape's protective nature into account. Ah the genius of multi-season planting for multi-seasonal bloom. Something I am still learning as a long-time gardener.

The Grumpy Gardener from SOUTHERN LIVING has more to say on the topic of semi-dwarf crape myrtles here on the Daily South.

Huge tunnel of pink crape myrtles at the Dallas Arboretum with visitors strolling below.
The magnificent allee of Crape Myrtles at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens provides more than enough shade for Husband and other garden strollers.
Huge tunnel of pink crape myrtles at the Dallas Arboretum.
We will assume these are NOT semi-dwarf varieties. :)

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