Crape myrtles are available in numerous summery colors and mature heights.

Crape myrtles are drought-proof, ‘foolproof’ trees

Crape myrtles are among the most popular garden plants for summer color and winter visual interest, said horticulturalist Mark Viette.

“Crape myrtles bloom all summer long and are fantastic for neglected areas of the yard,” he said. “They can survive droughts easily and really are foolproof.”

Different varieties have different mature heights, so it is important to pick the right size crape myrtle for your landscape, Viette said. They bloom white, purple, pink and red, and their foliage is either green or burgundy. Other than Japanese beetles, common pests present no problems.

Crape myrtles have no problem with clay soil and produce the most dramatic blooms in full sun. (Click to Tweet)

“If you live in a colder climate you can easily plant a crape myrtle in a 20- to 30-gallon container and bring the container into a garage or basement during cold weather,” Viette said.

Crape myrtles can be treated as a tree or a shrub. If you want a tree, prune to expose the trunk’s bark and to remove any side shoots. For a shrub, prune the crape myrtle so it is 12 to 18 inches tall.

They have no problem with clay soil and produce the most dramatic blooms in full sun.

Protect your skin from sun damage

Summer outdoor activities can be fun, but they also can increase the risk of skin cancer from repeated sunburns.

Dermatologist Dr. Christopher Gorman frequently evaluates patients who are at risk for skin cancer from excessive sun exposure.

“Excessive sun exposure is a known risk factor for the development of skin cancer. A sunburn damages the skin and is never a good thing,” Gorman said. “Everyone should make it a habit to make sun safety practices a part of their daily routine.”

The more common skin cancers include basal and squamous cell carcinoma followed by melanoma. Melanoma is the most concerning and dangerous of the above-skin cancers, and the number of cases is increasing, Gorman said.

“Sun exposure, numerous moles and a family history in a first-degree relative are among some of the risk factors for melanoma. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical and education can never start too early.”

“It is important for us to teach our children sun safety practices at an early age and for us to convey the concept that a tan is not cool—it is a mark of sun damage. I often remind my patients that being smart about sun exposure is one of the best ways to keep your skin looking young, in addition to the obvious benefit of decreased risk of skin cancer.”

Check changes to your skin

New, changing or abnormal moles should be evaluated by a physician. Remember the ABCDE rule of skin cancer, and if you notice a suspicious spot or a change in your skin, contact a dermatologist for skin screening as soon as possible:

Asymmetry;

Border irregularity;

Color (multi-colored or abnormal colors);

Diameter greater than the size of a pencil eraser; or

Elevation or evolution.

Beet and Corn Salad brings color and nutrition to the table

Beet and corn salad is "light, refreshing and really good for you," said Chef John Maxwell. He recommends buying beets with the greens still attached. Cut the greens off, blanch them and then layer the salad on top of the greens. "They are wonderful, with lots of vitamins and good color," Maxwell said.

Beet and Corn Salad

2 ounces fresh lime juice (or key lime juice for a more tangy taste)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup corn oil
1 pound beets, small—red, gold or candy-striped varieties
6 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
1 green onion, minced
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese—feta or chevre
1 bunch arugula
lime slices and additional green onion for garnish

To make the dressing, whisk together lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oils to emulsify.

Cut tops off of the beets. Boil the beets in salted water until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Drain, cool, peel, dice and set aside.

Swish beet greens in boiling water to soften them; drain and set aside.

In a stainless steel bowl, mix beets, corn, green onion, cilantro and goat cheese. Toss with dressing, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Let salad sit for 2 or 3 minutes.

Arrange beet greens and arugula on plates, and top with a scoop of salad. Garnish with lime slices and green onion.

Serves 4. Calories per serving: 385