Transplanting a Decades-Old Crape Myrtle Tree

Author: Meera, May 15, 2018

Friends said it was a bad idea. The tree was too large, too old, and too unwieldy to dig up and transport from my daughter’s property to mine. The crape myrtle  would not survive, they told me, because its large root would need to be severely cut. Also, without a crane or other lifting device, three of us would be struggling to deal with such a heavy tree.




The bark of this crape myrtle tree is lovely in winter

The bark of this crape myrtle tree is lovely in winter





I won’t say moving the tree  was easy. It had been standing for 28 years next to my daughter’s house, but she wanted to make way for new landscaping. When the family decided to part with the tree, they called on a family friend who worked as an arborist. He would do the cutting and digging of the tree.


Crape myrtles (of the genus, lagerstoemia) are available as shrubs and trees and are lovely in bloom with showy paniculate flowers in pink, fuchsia, red, or lavender. They are one of the trees that make little-to-no pollen (great for allergy sufferers). Light pruning during the growing season can produce a second bloom. Much beloved in the deep south, these trees remain stately and beautiful for up to fifty years.


My daughter’s tree arrived at the farmette in mid-October strapped onto our friend’s truck. The roots had been cut away. There were no fine root hairs or stems left–just bare wood. Ditto for the tree canopy–just a few hefty branch stubs. I wondered if our efforts would prove futile.


Hubby and I prepared a large planting hole just off from the patio. We added amendments to the clay soil and drove in stakes to keep the tree stable for a year or more until it had sufficiently developed roots. I added root hormone to the soil and watered deeply the first day and several times that week.




A leafy green canopy is developing on the limbs of the transplanted tree

A leafy green canopy is developing on the limbs of the transplanted tree




The winter rains came. I watched, waited, and wondered if there would ever be sprouting of any kind on the woody ends where branches had been amputated. Despite a canopy, the tree’s trunk, a beautiful, gray-green wood, afforded a kind of beauty to the austere winter garden. Before spring, I scraped a fingernail on the back of the trunk and discovered the wood was not dried out but as green and moist as a young sapling.


A spell of warm weather and the buzzing of bees in early spring drew my attention upward. Our tree had sprouted a flurry of bronze-green leaves. Pink blooms will likely appear in June or July.


I’m happy now that we went to all the trouble of bringing that tree onto the farmette for transplanting. We’ll have lovely pink blooms over the remaining summers of my life thanks to the crape myrtle tree being so long-lived.






If you enjoy reading about gardening and farming topics, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries: A BEELINE TO MURDER, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, and A HIVE OF HOMICIDES (Kensington Publishing).


Each book is chocked full of tips for gardening, keeping bees and chickens, and growing heirloom fruits and vegetables. There are also plenty of delicious recipes to try. Find these books on, Barnes &, and other online retailers or purchase at traditional bookstores everywhere.–Meera Lester




My debut novel, the first in a series of three cozy mysteries set on the Henny Penny Farmette

Novel #1 in the Henny Penny Farmette series




Novel #2 in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available September 27, 2016

Novel #2




This new novel is available Sept. 26, 2017

Novel #3







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The Quiet Beauty of a Winter Garden

Author: Meera, January 11, 2018

There is a quiet beauty in a winter garden. You must endure cold to appreciate it. On my farmette, there’s also fog and wind and misty rain. But as you gaze in mindfulness, the rewards come.



When trees are bare, you can appreciate the beauty of their scaffolding, branching habits, and fruiting spurs. There is an attractiveness about tree bark that is rough or smooth and colored in earthy hues of green, gray, or reddish brown. Bare trunks and branches provide visual interest until blossoms and blooms break in spring.




With pruning done and leaves removed, the roses rest. Birds gather at feeders and frolic in the fountains. Beneath the soft, damp earth, roots are taking in nutrients to prepare the fruit trees for a surge of growth when warmer days arrive.




The garden is a place to conjure memories and ponder life and destiny. Goethe, the German playwright, poet, and novelist wrote that “Sometimes our fate resembles a fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom, but we hope it, we know it.”




Winter is the perfect time to contemplate the tap root of your being and to think and and dream and plan for what will blossom in your life when warmth and light returns. French philosopher and author Alfred Camus wrote, “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”



I have a simple ritual of visiting my winter garden. I prepare a cup of hot water with juice of half a lemon and a tablespoon of honey or sometimes just a cup of coffee or tea. Then with cup in hand, off I go to inspect the fruit trees, the bare grape and berry vines, and the soil turned in raised boxes waiting to receive kitchen herbs. This ritual inspires me and silently powers me up with hope and energy.




Perhaps you have a similar winter ritual. If not, consider checking out my newest nonfiction book, RITUALS FOR LIFE and plant something in the earth or the garden of your psyche that holds the promise of bearing fruit in its own perfect time. Now is the time to greet each new winter day for the blessings it brings and appreciate the stark beauty of Nature.



More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you



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A Forty-foot Tall Brazilian Beauty

Author: Meera, September 22, 2016

We recently lost the elm tree that stood about 25 feet tall next to the small house on our Henny Penny Farmette. On hot days, we really feel the heat now that the elm’s shady canopy is gone.  Among the trees we are considering as a replacement for the elm is a Jacaranda mimosaefolia.



These jacaranda trees were tiny when shipped to us but over the last month have doubled in height

This jacaranda tree was  10 inches when shipped.  It will reach a height of 40 feet.



This Brazilian beauty will grow to 40 feet tall and spread from 15 to 30 feet wide. The trees begin to branch profusely when they reach about 6 feet high. I love the fernlike leaves and the 8-inch long clusters of bluish-lavender tubular flowers. The tree blooms abundantly in June and is stunning in any landscape or garden.


The trees will tolerate a wide variety of soil types. Water must be consistent but too much will create profuse tender growth and too little will stunt the tree. We purchased two of these gorgeous trees and will plant them at the front of our home, far enough away from each other to allow them to mature without crowding.


Although I will miss the elm shade until the jacarandas grow large, I won’t miss the debris of seed pods and small branches easily fractured from the elm. Mature Jacaranda’s in full bloom are a sight to behold and they’re fairly easy to grow.



*          *          *



If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my cozy mysteries A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE in the Henny Penny Farmette series (from Kensington Publishing).


Enter the Goodreads Giveaway–September 29 to October 6–for a chance to win a signed copy of a first-edition hardcover of The Murder of a Queen Bee. Three lucky winners will be chosen.



These novels are chocked full of recipes, farming tips, and sayings as well as a charming cozy mystery.




The books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.



The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series



This debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run. It’s now available in mass market paperback and other formats.





The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016



Release date is THIS WEEK–September 27. This book, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, is garnering great reviews on



It’s available free on Net Galley ( for readers, bloggers, and other professionals who write reviews.






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The wisteria bracts move gently in the breeze, releasing the scent of clean cotton

The wisteria bracts move gently in the breeze, permeating the air with a clean, sweet scent




The wisteria hangs in long purple bracts, its color finding resonance in the grape hyacinth blooms and the lavender buds. Delicate blossoms of pink and white create canopies of color for the fruit trees, and birdsong fills the air. Spring brings its gifts.




A flash of blue signifies a jay in the yard.

A flash of blue signifies a jay in the yard.



As the blue jay creates a screeching racket to the mockingbird’s ready song, the white-crowned sparrows have taken up residence in a row of birdhouses we’ve placed high on the back fence.The entrances of the sparrow houses are too small for the jay to access; a good thing since jays have earned a reputation as nest robbers.



Crew Cut, our resident black phoebe

Crew Cut, our resident black phoebe, nests under an eve of the old chicken house; the male teaches its young to catch insects on the wing



Yesterday, I spotted the black phoebe pulling a piece of coir from a wall planter for its nest. These peaceful birds make a sound of tsip or fi-bee, fi-bee and can rise to roughly 50 feet to sing to a female.They range from California to central Texas, and even venture all the way to Argentina.



In the tallest eucalyptus on the acre that stands vacant behind our property, a pair of hawks are also nest-building. My farmette lies in their flight path. Not a good thing to see–hawks swooping down over my chickens and then rising to their lofty nest.




My neighbor's heritage chicken has arrived for a visit

My neighbor’s heritage chicken has arrived for a visit




I threw some wildflower seed in beds over the weekend and then, after spotting my neighbor’s errant hen who flew to our yard, I began to regret my action. What can I do now but hope that she’ll not devour the seeds with her constant hunting and pecking?




Last night, I could have sworn I heard the pitter-patter of raindrops against the stone patio floor. With a steaming mug of coffee in hand at four o’clock this morning, I ventured outside and sure enough . . . it was still sprinkling. Hooray! It’s our first spring shower!




So, with all the nest-building and Mother Nature dropping a shower upon us, I know the wildflowers are blooming, too. That means the honeybee season is upon us. My neighbor has already had a bee swarm. I’m not ready, but I can’t stop Mother Nature from beginning a new cycle of seasons just because I don’t yet have my new honey frames assembled. That’s not how it works. Ready or not, spring has arrived.



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