Fifteen years ago, I tried and lost a few crape myrtles, placed here seemingly north of their native ranges. They would grow and look nice for a summer, and then even when they survived a winter, they struggled during the subsequent growing season and then expired the next. Even when I attempted a more hardy variety, like the National Arboretum release 'Tonto', it froze back to the ground each winter and returned in spring as a short bush. In contrast, over the last five years, every Lagerstroemia I've put into the ground has seemingly flourished, sometimes emerging through the winter whole, sometimes with a little die-back, but always healthy. The big summer advantage of crape myrtles, as any good sweet-talking southern belle could tell you, is that the dainty flowers don't crinkle in dryness or fade in heat, they just bloom on and on.
I grow other crapes of course. I've previously mentioned dwarf 'Cheery Dazzle' and 'Tonto', and both have their places in my garden, I even grow an unknown variety or two, like the lavender variety pictured at the left. This one was a purloined clone of a specimen displaced for road work, and I think it is probably the common variety 'Royalty'. Its exact identity may never be known, but it is rapidly growing on me, like my other crapes, as the summers become longer and hotter and winter disappears into memory.