All posts by Jim Abbot

Crape Myrtle

We’re all familiar with the tree commonly known as crape or crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica). It’s not native to Georgia, but given how many crape myrtles we see in Atlanta yards, sidewalk strips, and parking lots, you might have assumed it is. It came to us from China and Korea, first to Charleston in 1790 and then everywhere else.

I’m here today with a reminder: if you are responsible for one or more of these trees, there is no law that says you must “top” a crape myrtle. The reason some people cut back these trees is because they believe it’s a technique to get more blooms and larger blooms in the summer. The reason that others top these trees is because, well, everybody else is doing it.

You can google the phrase “crape murder” to read all the reasons why it’s not a good practice to decapitate trees, putting aside aesthetics.

A few years ago, the Natalie asked Tree Watch to plant some crape myrtles out in front of their lovely building on Waverly Way. Look how elegant they already are.

Earlier, I wrote that “there is no law that says you must ‘top’ a crape myrtle.” In fact, for what it’s worth, the City of Atlanta Tree Protection Ordinance deems “topping” an illegal destruction of a tree, for which a fine may be imposed:

Topping, tipping, or any similar improper pruning practices will automatically be deemed as destruction of a tree.

So please pause a minute and consider whether you really want to chop your crape myrtle in two, especially the ones that are in the public right-of-way between the sidewalk and the street. Most varieties of crape myrtle (Tuscarora, Muskogee, Natchez, Sarah’s Favorite, etc.) do want to be trees, not shrubs. If you want a shrub, plant a shrub!

Looking Forward to Festival 2

I visited a friend over on Edgewood Avenue today — he’d asked to borrow a bucket or two of mulch, and I was happy to oblige. When I got there, I saw immediately that I’m obviously not the only one around here who is eagerly looking forward to the Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes.

Right? Look, Mr. Grancy Graybeard is already wearing his party outfit.

Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus)

Looking Forward to Festival 1

My history with the Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes begins in 1986.

Image credit: Richard Westrick

In 1986, Jeanne and I were living in a third-floor apartment at 461 North Highland Avenue. Her mother came down from Philadelphia to pay us a visit, and we took her to the festival. She loved it, and she insisted on buying us that year’s poster. It’s still my favorite.

In 2004 (I think it was), Jeanne and I had been living on Waverly Way for four years.

Image credit: Richard Westrick

We agreed to have our new two-story Craftsman included in that year’s Tour of Homes. This time, it was MY mother who visited. She came to help us throughout the weekend. I have wonderful memories of our younger son and his grandmother sitting on the front porch, welcoming visitors and marking those tour tickets.

In 2013, the neighborhood put 946 Waverly Way on tour again.

Image credit: Richard Westrick

Oh what fun that was. We met so many wonderful people, and who wouldn’t like to be complimented on their home?

Did you know that it’s neighborhood volunteers who organize and run the Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes? That mulching and pruning trees in preparation for Festival is just one of hundreds of tasks that have to be completed to stage a safe and successful event? That planning for the next year’s festival will begin almost as soon as this year’s festival is in the books?

It really does feel like a privilege to live in Inman Park, and as I’ve written before on this site, that’s down to the people — not the trees, not the houses, not the amenities, not the Beltline, not the buzz, but the people.

Oh, before I wrap this up, I have to share this quote from the March 24, 2004 edition of the New York Times. “Eccentric”? What a hoot!

Two weekends later … is another popular festival in one of the city’s most attractive in-town neighborhoods, the Inman Park Spring Festival and Tour of Homes two miles east of downtown. This event, less traditional and more exuberant than the Dogwood Festival, includes a parade of silly floats and clowns, a tour of some of the city’s most eccentric homes, and live entertainment and dance.

*Thanks go to former Tree Watch co-chair Richard Westrick for creating a photo gallery of posters from past festivals. You can view Richard’s album here.

**Volunteer for Festival here.