Botanical buzz: Pistacia Chinensis tree.

Back when choc- biscuit Wagon Wheels were as big as Go-Cart trundles. When the Buttercups and Granny’s Bonnets of English Nursery Rhymes fluttered through our imaginations along with the scrumptious musky aromas Reg Gasnier and Arty Beetson footy bubble-gum cards. 

Little brother had a smoking cap pistol and Christine Ellis from up the road no longer played with dolls and children’s tea sets. She whispered behind her hand to your little sister, between cursory stares in your direction. And for some unknown reason her countenance glimpsed in profile set your heart racing with a curious ache. We all grew up by and by.

Mum told us not to touch the poison Rhus tree up the back yard which had unmatched blood-red autumn colour. Called by botanists, Toxicodendron succedaneum this tree hit the banned list. My little brother got a nasty red welt on his arm from simply brushing against it. The promotion was to replace this tree with an ornamental Pistachio tree (Pistacio chinensis), related to the nut tree P.vera. Similar autumn colour without the danger. It was a successful promotion back in the 1960’s. Rhus trees were hunted out. I feel the same way about bad memories: toss them out and replace with good stuff.

At Shoyoen (our Japanese Garden) we have a grove of these Pistachio trees on the back slope near the Tea Garden. They love our full sun and once established require little water but extend a welcome shade area. The name comes from the Greek for the nut (pistake), which comes in clusters after the catkin flowers. The tree is deciduous and grows on average some seven metres high.

As we stand under the desirable shade in summer we may let our minds wander in nostalgic reverie to yesteryear. Where did all the time go?

Did you also run through the wattle trees to finally lie down to catch our breath under a grove of shady trees? Was the Indian team with war-paint hard on our tail with bows and arrows? Imagine you hide behind a shop-bought tepee made of canvas and watch time stand still.

Shade for Summer: Picture perfect Pistacia Chinensis tree.

Shade for Summer: Picture perfect Pistacia Chinensis tree.