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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of March 12, 2018

There are shrubs, such as spireas and hydrangeas, and then there are shrubs.  Shrubs being derived from the Arabic sharab, meaning drink.  A shrub is a mixture of fruit and sugar steeped in vinegar.  Shrubs are a great way to use your own home-grown fruits and vegetables.  Here’s a recipe from Chris Shepard, chef-owner of Houston’s Underbelly restaurant and featured in the February/March 2017 issue of Organic Life.  Give it a try and enjoy!

Apple Shrub – Makes about 3 ¾ cups – Cinnamon and brown sugar give this elixir an apple-pie appeal.

9 Granny Smith Apples, cored and cut into 8 slices each

4 cups of brown sugar

2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup apple cider vinegar

  1. In a bowl, combine apples, sugar and cinnamon; stir for about 5 minutes. Cover and chill for 2 days, stirring daily.
  2. Stir and strain, reserving apples to snack on. In a sanitized canning jar, mix with vinegar, cover tightly, and store chilled for up to 1 month.
  3. To serve, add ¼ cup shrub to 1 cup still or sparkling ice water, or mix with spirits to taste.

More tips for this week in the garden and landscape:

  • A very special, show stopper for the perennial garden is Allium ‘Summer Drummer’ (Summer Drummer ornamental onion).  It is one of the tallest ornamental onions at 4’ to 6’ tall.  It also blooms in June, July and sometimes August which is later that most other alliums.  The flowers are a large 8” across and are purple and white.  Even the stems put on a show as they emerge green and as they age, change to a garnet color.  The leaves die back as blooming begins to allow the flower heads to take main stage in the garden.  Hardy in zones 3-8.
  • The common snowberry or belluaine (symphoricarpos albus (L.) Blake) is a valuable wildlife plant due to its production of fruit in late fall and winter.  Flowering in May and June, its ability to grow on steep banks makes it helpful in controlling soil erosion.  The American robin and cedar waxwing are attracted to the common snowberry for a source of food and cover.

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