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I’m Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden
Journal.  There is no more fragrant,
spring flower than lilacs.  Originating
in Eastern Europe and Asia, the Latin
name for lilac is Syringa, which means pipe in Turkish.  The Turks would hollow out the stems of lilac
bushes to make musical instruments. 
Lilacs became a popular American shrub with George Washington and Thomas
Jefferson planting them in their colonial gardens.  Today, lilac festivals abound around the
country.  Rochester,
New York is the self proclaimed Lilac
Capital of the World.  They grow more
than 500 varieties and 1200 bushes all around the city.

Lilacs are low maintenance, except for the pruning.  Most love to grow tall and after a few years
the flowers can be out of reach for picking and enjoying.  To prune an overgrown lilac, start after the
blooms fade.  If you wait too long and
prune in July, you’ll remove the flower buds for next year’s crop.  Prune 1/3 of the oldest, thickest stems to
the ground.  Allow new shoots from the
base of the plant to grow up and replace them. 
Prune these new shoots to the desired height and after three years of
this rotational pruning you’ll have a shorter, lilac shrub.

Now for this week’s tip. 
It’s rhubarb season.  Not only
does rhubarb make a great pie, it’s good for you too.  Rhubarb has been found to have anti-oxidant,
inflammatory and allergy properties. 
However, if your rhubarb is forming a flower stalk, cut it down.  The stalk will take energy away from leaf and
stem production.  For a tasty drink,
check out the rhubarb punch recipe below.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I’ll be talking
about hot peppers.  For now I’ll be
seeing you in the garden.


Rhubarb Punch (Thanks to Catherine Hughes for sharing
this recipe)

4 cups rhubarb stems chopped

4 cups water

½ cup sugar

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup orange juice

Cook down the rhubarb in the water until soft. Add sugar, lemon juice,
and orange juice. Mix well. Strain in cheesecloth or a colander to
remove pulp. Another option is to blend the rhubarb solution in a
blender to break up pulp. Serve chilled.


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