A Plant Fit for a Queen

Rhubarb! nope – not just for Gramma’s pies. Rhubarb is a vastly under-appreciated ornamental plant. It’s got everything:

  • texture,
  • color,
  • scale,
  • it’s architectural
  • super easy to grow
  • tolerates some shade

AND you can eat it! Last night I made an easy rhubarb chutney (recipe follows) that I served with panko breaded pork chops -Yum!

Last summer I divided a really big rhubarb, I put some into a shady bed just to fill up space and put another into a large ceramic pot by the swimming pool. The rhubarb in the shady bed did very well – just a bit smaller than ones grown in full sun but the surprise was my pot!

OMG it was stunning! HUGE ornamental leaves crowned with a froth of creamy white flowers – the humble rhubarb was elevated to royalty by placing it in a container.

This spring came another lovely surprise. I didn’t do anything special to my rhubarb pot last fall. Just placed it under a tarp for the winter (in western New York we’re zone 5A (everything freezes). This spring up popped the rhubarb – it looks fabulous already and there’s one more big pot I don’t have to fill! Don’t you love a timesaver!

Rhubarb Chutney

Chutney

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups 1/2-inch cubes fresh rhubarb (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup (generous) chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup dried tart cherries or golden raisins (about 2 ounces)

Combine first 8 ingredients in heavy large Dutch oven. Bring to simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb, onion and dried cherries; increase heat to medium-high and cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)


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