drooping crepe myrtle
I have a beautiful Potomac Crepe Myrtle that I need some help with. I purchased it from Behnkes in late April or early May of 2008. It is planted in a part sun flower bed in my front yard. I was very careful about the purchase, and specifically asked the workers at Behnkes to point me toward a dwarf variety that would not grow taller than about 10 ft., that would bloom well even in part sun, and that would tolerate my rocky and clay soil. (I have done a lot of soil amending, but one can only change so much.) For three years the plant was beautiful and thrived- it grew taller, from about 2 ft. at purchase to about 6 ft. this year. It has bloomed nicely every year and I get lots of compliments on it.
This year for the first time I trimmed it from the bottom up. Before anyone accuses me, I did not hack off the top and I did not "murder" it. I removed the inward-growing branches only so about one third of the tree is bare from the ground up. It looked great- much more tree-like than shrub-like, which is what I was going for. I got the instructions from a reputable website, which I can reference if anyone wants to know. Anyway, it did great for weeks, and began to bloom in late June.
One morning after a bad thunderstorm I looked outside and noticed that one branch had broken off and was lying on the ground. Sadly, I cut the final piece (it was barely attached). I also noticed that the bark on the tree was getting a peeling look. I've seen this on other crepe myrtles, but never on this one. The tree still looked fine that morning, but by the evening ALL the branches were drooping, almost as if the tree were a "weeping" type. It has lost its shape completely, and some branches are now hanging so low that the graze the top of my bedding plants. In addition, because the tree is along the front edge of our lot, some of it's branches are now bending over a busy sidewalk, and people run into them.
Can anything be done to restore it's stature? I miss my beautiful tree. If I can't fix it, what should I do? I would consider removing it and replacing it, but while planting my annuals this year I noticed that the root system is quite widespread, and removing the tree may mean excavating the entire flowerbed. Help!