The summer solstice is today. First day of summer. Stonehenge had a quiet gathering of 20,000 people. Did you celebrate?
The crape myrtle project. My 25 foot crape myrtle was taken down by tornado Bob in May. It has lain peacefully on the ground, fully leafed out, roots still in the soil. Time to stand back on its feet, Ms Linda Smith and I have hatched a plan to bring the plant back upright. Read on.....

21st of June 2013 Blog

Becky Emerson Carlberg

The summer solstice is today, the longest day of sunlight of the year.  As the first day of summer in Oklahoma, it has come in predictable fashion…..Hot.

Did you go outside and welcome the rising sun?  While we welcome summer in our Northern Hemisphere, winter now begins in the Southern Hemisphere.  Twenty four hours of daylight will dazzle the area north of the Arctic Circle, while 24 hours of darkness will cover south of the Antarctic Circle.  You may thank Earth as she tilts on her axis for the celebration held at Stonehenge each June.  During the time she leans toward the sun, summer, sunblock, sunglasses, and sunburn appear, but as she kicks back, winter, woolies, and warm fireplaces come. 

This morning, over 20,000 people celebrated the return of the summer solstice at Stonehenge in the UK.  Stonehenge’s precursor of Mesolithic postholes date beyond 10,000 years ago.  Well over 5,000 years in the misty past, a large circle and ditch existed, with cremated remains placed in the ditch and in burial holes.  During the next thousand years a timber circle near the River Avon became linked to the Stonehenge circle (now with its stones) via an avenue.  The avenue was lined up with the setting sun’s rays at the end of the day of the summer solstice.  Whether Stonehenge’s functions in the past were religious or spiritual in nature, the layout suggests it also existed for astronomical observations used in solstices, equinoxes, eclipses and other “heavenly” sightings.  Which takes us back to this morning.  Police were pleased there were fewer arrests than usual.

How dull.  Somewhat like our weather forecast for the next week.  Hot and dry.  Not to worry, it is time to straighten back up the crape myrtle.

My 25 foot tall crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) was slammed down to the ground by tornado Bob on the 19th of May.  Bob also removed the large Autumn Olive that grew in front of her, protecting her from the south winds.  Without her older brother, my crape myrtle lies prostrate on mother earth, quietly reflecting her situation, with her roots are still embedded in soil.  Thus, she remains vibrant and green stretched out along the surface, gathering the sun’s rays every day, making food and leaves, and starting to send up tiny shoots perpendicular to her horizontal branches and stems.   This is probably not a good idea.


Ms. Linda W. Smith drove over after conquering Map Quest with its wrong directions, surveyed the scene, and came up with a plan.  The crape myrtle could, in all likelihood, be pulled back up, but needed firm support for some time until she secured her roots in the soil.  A good strong post would need to be in place.  Next, somehow the crape myrtle would be wrapped up and erected.  Final stage would be to tie the girl to the main post and possibly to another smaller stake to the side.

Pondering the logistics, the post in ground should be the first order of business.  My faithful husband made several trips to Lowes, and in the end fashioned a thick plank composed of three 2”x6”x8’ boards bolted together.  The railroad tie idea was nixed.  A railroad crosstie can weigh over 200 pounds and we did not have a truck or several strong men available for transporting, lifting and positioning. 

A two foot deep hole was dug, dry concrete mix put in the bottom as per directions, the bolted wood plank inserted, and the rest of the wet mixed concrete ladled around the base of the plank.  Pine trunk sections were placed next to the plank for support and protection against a very strong south wind.

After 24 hours of set up, the concrete continues to cure.  Max strength will be reached, depending on temperature and wind, within the next few days.  When deemed ready, we will continue the crape myrtle resurrection. 

I know, crape myrtles are not native.  They originated in Asia, and most likely, my crape myrtle species came from China or Korea.  Members of the Loosestrife family, that also include Henna and Pomegranate, these shrubs have bark that flakes off year-round and their flower petals are crumpled up in the bud.  To me it says home, especially when I take a sniff of the flowers.  

My mother's goal was to have this amazing crape myrtle tree with a single trunk instead of multiple branches.  She has one crape myrtle in front of her house that has a history.  It grew by the old Forbes house that was torn down before my parents built their house in 1962.  The front yard was mowed for 5 or 6 years and apparently the crape myrtle was also mowed in their quest for establishing a green lawn.  During a trip to Michigan, my uncles were to mow the grass, but they forgot, and for the first time in years the crape myrtle gathered courage and put up one little sprout.  After coming back home, my mother saw the tiny shrub and sprung into action.  From then on it was protected, and the plant took advantage.  It is still alive, nearly 40 feet tall, and every year is full of reddish-purple blooms.  We figure it must be over 70 years old!   

Wildflower enthusiasts:  Have you seen the leadplant (Amorpha canescens) in bloom along the roadsides?  It is a shrub in the pea family, sometimes called false indigo.  Dozens of small blue flowers are now in blooming in racemes.  A raceme is an arrangement of flowers (inflorescence) along a single axis.  The little flowers all have little stems.  The leadplant racemes are at the ends of hairy, leafy branches.  The leaves of a leadplant have a gray blue cast to them, providing an interesting contrast to the green leaves of other plants.  Use the word raceme wherever possible to impress your friends!