Yankee ignorance

On recent drives to Mountain Home, Arkansas and to the Great Smoky Mountains Nat'l Park I saw some beautiful plants which I had not seen before. 1) The first one seemed to be some type of locust tree with numerous pink or light purple blossoms. Some were very large and others almost looked like a bush. These seemed common along the roadsides. 2) The second were even more pretty with large clumps of blossoms at the ends of each branch. Colors? I saw white, pink, red, deep red, and purple. One of the locals said this was myrtle. Please let me know what these were and what the typical growing zones are for plants. Thanks in advance. Paul Northern IL
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Paul Paulsen wrote:

It probably was a locust -- my guess is Robinia viscosa, or "clammy locust".
The other might have been mountain laurels or rhodedendrons.
Best regards, Bob
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Lagerstroemia indica, aka crepe myrtle, and they are usually only hardy in zones 7+ although a few cold hardy versions are being bred and released. They probably will only stay shrub sized in cold zones though, and I don't think anyone colder than zone 6a has reported a lot of success with them overwintering.
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While not tremendously popular, crepe myrtle is seen here in zone 6 in SW Ohio. There are a couple in my neighborhood and if I had an appropriate site, I would get one. They get to be large shrubs here. I was talking to someone from zone 5 last month at a garden center who told me she has one that dies back to the ground each year and returns as a small shrub. I sent for some information a few years ago from this place: http://www.lagerstroemia.com/ The information packet was quite informative. As I recall, they require that you buy a minimum of about a dozen plants, so I didn't get anything and can't comment on their quality.
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This could have been mimosa trees: http://plantsdatabase.com/go/1764 /
Cheers, Sue
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snipped-for-privacy@NOSPAMearthlink.net
Zone 6, South-central PA
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Not sure about your first entry but #2 would be a crape (crepe) myrtle. What I know about them is that there are shrub varieties and tree varieties. I am a (temporarily) transplanted Yankee living in Virginia so don't know much about them but do agree with you that they are pretty.
Lynn
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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net says...

Mimosa. Get far enough South (but not Too far), and it's a weed.

Crepe Myrtle.
Don't believe either would be happy in your climate.
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Mark

The truth as I perceive it to be.
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crape myrtle is happy in zone 7 - MD and VA

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(1) My first thought was locust, but they are a spring bloomer. I'd guess mimosa, since they are an early summer bloomer.
(2) Crepe myrtle. They come in all the colors you mentioned, come in full size (15-20 ft), semi-dwarf (10-12 ft.), and dwarf (6-10 ft.) They bloom mid summer on new growth so they are usually pruned back in February. They are easily started from seed, but usually bought as started plants. In zones 8 & 9 the seed heads can be dead headed and you can usually get a second blooming in early fall.
Bob S.
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