Years ago, well known horticulturalist and McKinney resident, Neil Sperry, had a vision – that McKinney would be the location for a park containing at least one sample of every existing variety of Crape Myrtle. On Friday, June 10, that dream became a reality as Sperry and the Crape Myrtle Trails Board of Directors dedicated the new Crape Myrtles World Collection Park, located at 6452 Collin McKinney Parkway in Craig Ranch.
Plans have no value unless you have someone to implement them Sperry told the audience as he thanked those individuals who were instrumental in making the Crape Myrtle World Collection Park project happen.
Former McKinney Mayor, Bill Whitfield, Bill Smith, Susan Owens, Rick Trailer and Tracy Rath, Chair of McKinney Community Development Corporation all had a role in seeing the project through Sperry said. David Craig of Craig International donated the land for the park.
Crape Myrtle Trails Executive Director, Susan Owens said there are 120 varieties of crape myrtles and the park currently holds all but ten.
“We have samples of those ten varieties growing from cuttings and will transfer them to the park when they are ready,” Owens explained.
The tree that was planted during the dedication was donated by the National Arboretum in Washington D.C. to commemorate the opening of the one and only park in the country that is dedicated entirely to crape mrytle trees. A first generation child taken from the original Natchez tree, this hybrid was developed in the 1970’s by the U.S. National Arboretum and Dr. Donald Egolf, who in the early 60’s began to breed crape myrtles that were resistant to powdery mildew. The Natchez is one of twenty nine hybrids with Native Indian tribal names.
Following the dedication, those in attendance were treated to a picnic in the park.
The Crape Myrtle Park dedication and Picnic in the Park was the kick off event for the month long Bloomin’ and Boomin’ that culminates with the city’s annual Red, White & BOOM at Craig Ranch on July 4th.