“Thank you!” to our local nursery leaders

The headline says it all. Those of us on the board of The Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney and the City of McKinney want the world to know how grateful we are for the incredible help given to our World Collection Park this past Saturday.

Entrance to The World Collection Park, the Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney. Click image for larger view.

Let me keep my story short.

Original site plan of the World Collection Park as presented by landscape architect Rowland Jackson of Newman, Jackson, Bieberstein of Dallas. Click image for larger view.

The park was developed as a single place where all known varieties of crape myrtles could be grown side by side, so that all could be compared for things such as colors, dates of first and last bloom, insect and disease resistance, winter hardiness, mature height – and so, on and on.

When we began we didn’t know how many varieties there were. There seemed to be many that overlapped – one variety called by different names depending on where you lived and where you bought it.

Purple Plateau showcases the many rich shades of purple that are available in crape myrtles.

We have finally decided that there are perhaps 130-140 varieties, but more are being added each year.

The 7-acre park opened in Craig Ranch in June 2011, 6452 Collin McKinney Parkway.

A biblical drought that year and two brutal winters in ensuing years had left big holes in the park plantings. We needed help.

One of our CMT board members happens to be Adrian Muehlstein (Southwest Landscape Nursery), current chair of the board of the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association. Adrian and current president of Region 4 (Dallas-area) of TNLA Greer Pittman suggested a work day at the park for their annual volunteer project, and last Saturday was that day.

It was a magnificent day that started out at 32F and ended up in the mid-60s.

Continued Below

Let a few photos tell the story for me…
It was so nice to be able to point to various plants or plantings and just say that they needed to be pruned or trunks thinned and know that real pros would do the job right without any further instruction.

Adrian Muehlstein (L) is Chair of the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association board. George Fuller (C) is Mayor of McKinney and Paul Grimes (R) is City Manager.
Our team was getting tools and equipment in place very early before the volunteers started arriving. You can see the dwarf Burford hollies on the right. They were in serious need of being reshaped and retrained. They needed a “re-boot.”
This is farther down that same row of dwarf Burfords. You can see the quantity of growth that was being removed. They filled two dump trucks and two giant dumpsters.
TNLA members donated and planted new hollies to fill voids in our plantings – voids brought on by droughts, malfunctioning irrigation heads and pedestrian abuse. We believe all irrigation problems have now been resolved.
Lynn and I came back to the park after my KLIF radio program. It was so serene. The pruning of the dwarf Burford hollies in the photos above had been finished. Everything had been cleaned up. These are the same plants as in the photos above.
One of the volunteers took it upon herself to thin out extra trunks on many of the large tree-form crape myrtles. This plant had suffered serious freeze damage in February 2021. We opted to cut it back to the ground completely last April. Look at how much new growth it had produced! It’s twice her height.
Now the trunks are evenly spaced and they’re not crowding one another. Later this year we will select the best 3 or 5 of them (odd numbers look best). Those will be the permanent trunks. Within two growing seasons we will have a beautifully shaped tree. This is why I encourage anyone with a crape myrtle that has been topped to use this technique to restore their tree to its full potential.
All of these branches came from the tree shown in the photo just above along with one other similar tree.

Overhead view of the park in bloom…
Want to see what the park looks like when it’s in full bloom? This drone’s-eye video on the home page of our website was taken two summers ago. Give it a few seconds to load. And know that the park will just get prettier with all these upgrades and improvements.

The TNLA members who helped us:
These are the companies who joined the volunteer day at The World Collection Park on Saturday. Our most sincere thanks to them all.

If you do business with any of these companies, please let them know that we all think they’re pretty special:

Industrial Power
James Landscaping
Green Lake Nursery
Oak Street Nursery
Great Gardens
Roundtree Landscaping
Living Earth Technology
Green Counts
Calloway’s Nursery
Tricia Quaid Nursery
Southwest Wholesale Nursery

A closing personal comment…
I’ve been associated with the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association since I was 14 years old and had a backyard nursery in College Station.

When I suggest that you always deal with member nurseries of TNLA and that you look for help from their Texas Certified and Texas Master Certified Nursery Professionals, it’s because I know that’s where you’ll be getting the best plants, products and service. You’ll be dealing with Small Business America – men and women who are the fabric of your town. Like you, they’re avid gardeners, and their advice is timely and reliable.

It’s days like this past Saturday with Region 4, and like last December when members of Region 5 (Fort Worth area) of TNLA helped us with Christmas is for Caring for residents of the Denton State Supported Living Center – those are the times when I am most proud to say that I’m in the nursery industry. I also happen to write and broadcast. But please call me a nurseryman!

Posted by Neil Sperry
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