2012 Theodore Klein Plant Award Winners

Lagerstromia indica x faueri hydridsLagerstromia indica x faueri hydrids are Kentucky's Theodore Klein Plant Award Winners for 2012. The late Dr. Don Egolf United States National Arboretum (USNA) breeder developed many of the hybirds of which several examples for Kentucky are ‘Acoma’‘Hopi’‘Natchez'. Images and information can be found on the USNA Website. These selections are among the most cold tolerant, mildew resistant and heavy flowering of the crepemyrtles. They are reliable growers and bloomers in the northern part of crapemyrtle growing regions, offering the attractive exfoliating bark that never develops on less cold tolerant forms grown as cutback shrubs. 'Acoma' and 'Natchez' are white flowering cultivars while 'Hopi' is pale pink flowering. Many crapemyrtle drop their leaves green but 'Natchez' often has nice fall color, at it's best red and yellow-orange (see image to right). Retired USNA plant breeder Ruth Dix observed that if the hybrids develop trunks to 2-2 1/2 inches they will survive all but the most severe of winters.

A favorite at the UKREC, Princeton, Ky is the Egolf cultivar Lagerstromia fauieri 'Kiowa' a white flowering crapemyrtle known for it's wonderfully variable cinnomon colored bark (see below).

Lagerstromia indica x faueri hydrids

October 31, 2005
Who was Dr. Don Egolf? At the 2005 Southern Plant Conference in Louisville, KY there was a discussion between Dr. Margaret Pooler of the US National Arboretum and Dr. Mike Dirr of the University of Georgia about Dr. Don Egolf that lead to Mike saying the late Dr. Egolf was the greatest plant breeder of all time. I found this on page 540 in Dr. Mike Dirr's Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, 5th Edition; "Dr. Don Egolf was one of the greatest woody plant breeders that history will ever recognize. He was a scientist, breeder, horticulturist, plantsman, and gardener traits that allowed him to introduce only the best. His plants will withstand the test of time. Like masterpieces of great artists, writers, and musicians, Dr. Egolf's plants stand out from those of mere mortals. As a young assistant professor at Illinois, I met and shook his hand, was able to attend several lectures, and voraciously read his cultivar releases in Baileya and HortScience. All young scientists and aspiring plantsmen should read his detailed descriptions of the new introductions. They leapt from the page into the reader's garden. Don Shadow told me that Dr. Egolf was endowed with the [sic] great eye for quality plants. With Hibiscus, Lagerstroemia, Malus, Pyracantha, and Viburnum Dr. Egolf produced magic. Our gardens are richer due to one man's vision and persistence. His woody plant legacy is without parallel." When someone of Dr. Mike Dirr's stature and reputation describes a person like that the words are an understatement. Mike, thanks for reminding us in print, I hope I get to read this statement in the 6th edition. (14Dec2011 - It is in the 6th ed. in the bottom paragraph on page 613; Mike, thanks for maintaining this wonderfully written tribute).