By Susan Morrison

It seems all regions of the country have their own weather-related challenges. For the inland part of California where my garden design business is located, our struggle is punishing summer sun combined with a distinct lack of water resources. That’s why I love the Lagerstroemia Delta series. Heat-loving crape myrtles do exceptionally well with limited water, but it can be difficult to get clients excited about a tree they see planted on every street corner. Fortunately, the glossy, deep burgundy leaves of the Delta series catapult this familiar standby into a whole new category. Available in a range of flower colors, I initially gravitated towards the elegant lavender and black combination of L. ‘Delta Eclipse’, but have come to prefer the flashier hot-pink blooms on ‘Delta Fuchsia’ and deep red ‘Delta Flame’ flowers.  

As a bonus, this cross between a shrub and a small tree grows 4- to 6-feet wide and 8- to 10-feet tall, making it an exceptional vertical accent in a smaller garden. I added ‘Delta Fuchsia’ to my own garden this spring, and in addition to acting as a dark foil for the surrounding plants, once flowering begins in mid-August, it is exactly the late summer showstopper I imagined it would be.  

With their tight, upright shape and shiny dark leaves, a Delta series crape myrtle fits easily into just about any garden scheme, but these trees are particularly effective when paired with silver, blue or chartreuse foliage. For both color and textural contrast, try surrounding the base with soft, spikey Festuca ‘Beyond Blue’ (Beyond Blue Fescue). If you prefer a sunnier effect,  position it behind low-growing Cistus ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ (Little Miss Sunshine Rockrose). The dramatic gold and green variegated leaves will not only provide long-lasting foliage contrast, but rockrose’s white flowers light up a spring garden and won’t compete later in the season when your Delta series crape myrtle takes center stage with its flashy, boldly colored blooms.