Santa Paula Times

Signs of life in the Downtown: Crepe myrtles in bloom, Bradford pears doing just fine

October 08, 1999
Santa Paula News
There's something new in Santa Paula, something bright enough to take peoples' minds off the city's troubles, something that's growing like the presence of spend-friendly tourists in the historic Downtown. Crepe myrtles, those flowering trees cutting across the Main Street area business district north and south, now in bloom and bringing a touch of color and beauty to the side streets."When they were in full bloom they looked real, real good," said Norm Wilkinson, public works director/city engineer. "We're real pleased with the way the crepe myrtles are doing."This particular variety of crepe myrtle - which has flowers described as brick red to magenta depending on the eye of the viewer - can become rangy-looking, prompting the city to last year trim the tips of the trees to make them more compact.Some people have wondered why the trees lining the side streets have bloomed but the ones planted on Main Street are not: the answer is simple. . .they are different species.Main Street sports Bradford pear trees that bloom in the Spring with lush white blossoms.But the new trees, like the crepe myrtles planted during the ambitious Downtown Improvement Project of 1997-98, "Didn't have a real good show," said Wilkinson. "The Bradford pears were planted during El Nino, but I suspect it was more temperature related than anything else. It remains to be seen how showy they will be, but the Bradford pears were picked more for their upright growth pattern that doesn't push into the buildings."
Trees, bushes and flowers can be tricky beings, especially when planted during unusual weather patterns: many gardeners around Santa Paula tell post-El Nino stories of plantings that they thought had long been dead suddenly sprouting in the last year or so.One resident planted a trumpet vine, that flowering growth that attracts hummingbirds, over two years ago. It never took, that is until about six months ago when something started to grow along side of the house. . .sure enough, the new growth turned out to be the trumpet vine. Similar stories abound throughout Santa Paula, home to many of the prettiest gardens in the county, even those tended by people lacking a green thumb.So goes the trees on Main and surrounding streets, which Wilkinson said will only get more beautiful as time passes and the seasons change.