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I know you're embarrassed because I said smart people plant Chinese pistache, seeing as how you've never heard of it. Don't hide -- you can redeem yourself in both the Grump's and the world's eyes by writing three little words in indelible ink on your forehead.

"It's a tree."

There. Looks good, You are now smart. Because of this, you should plant a Chinese pistache this fall, especially if you want a tree that:

+ Doesn't get too big (grows 30-50 feet tall and wide with a rounded shape)

+ Grows in almost any well-drained soil

+ Is suited to most of the South (Zones 6-9)

+ Provides light, dappled shade that grass will grow in

+ Has no significant pests, so you don't have to spray

+ Grows quickly, so you won't die before you enjoy it

+ Tolerates heat and drought, so you won't die at the end of a hose

+ Consistently develops spectacular fall colors of scarlet, orange, and yellow

Native to China (duh), Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) is cousin the the pistachio tree (Pistacia vera) that gives us those muy delicioso nuts. Unfortunately, the nuts of Chinese pistache are delicioso only to wildlife. But while Chinese pistache won't sate your physical hunger, it will satisfy your spiritual yearning for a beautiful tree in the yard. You can plant Chinese pistache by the street, in the middle of the lawn, or use it to shade a courtyard or patio.

Chinese pistache can be either male or female (just like many of the entertainers downtown). Only females bear fruit, which some people find a little messy. In this case, the solution is to plant a male selection called 'Keith Davey.' Heritage Seedlings offers seedlings of this tree and Forest Farm has offered it in the past. Plain old Chinese pistache is widely available at garden and home centers.

It's election time, which means most of you probably just did something a little dumb. Make up for it. Plant a chinese pistache.

Question & Answer Time!

Crabgrass: How do I get ride of crabgrass and when? Diana

Answer: Crabgrass will die with the first good frost, so there really isn't any point in treating it now. Cut the grass often enough to prevent it from going to seed. Next spring, treat the lawn with one of those granular crabgrass preventers you see at garden and home centers, like Scott's Halts. It will keep crabgrass seeds from germinating.

Holly hater: Hey Grumpy, old co-worker here. I'm giving our front yard a huge makeover...like a Joan Rivers reconstruction. Our landscape plan calls for 'Mary Nell' hollies to anchor each corner of the front of the house. Is there a suitable substitute...I'm a holly hater. Helen

Answer: Grumpy suggests planting a fall-blooming sasanqua camellia (Camellia sasanqua). One of his favorites is 'Sparkling Burgundy.' This upright grower doesn't get too big (8-10 feet tall) and features very showy ruby-red flowers.

Mint: I live in Michigan. My parents brought mint from my grandparents' home in Kentucky and transplanted it here for me one May a few years ago. The scent of the mint brings fond memories with it. Now, we have an opportunity to move to Tennessee. I'd like to bring some mint with me to transplant. Is there a way to keep my mint going so that I could take some with me if we move in the winter? Penny

Answer: Mint is one tough plant. What I would do is dig up some now and grow it in a pot. Take the pot indoors before the weather freezes and then take it with you to Tennessee. Don't plant it outdoors until after the last spring frost there next year, because it won't be hardened off. Once it's planted, though, you can leave it in the ground for good, and you'll always have plenty, because it spreads faster than a rumor at an all-girls' school.

 

 

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