This native plant has it all: fragrance, fascinating flowers, red fruit, pretty fall color and winter interest. Sugar Shack Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis ‘SMCOSS’) reduces the large native to a size that fits most yards. Flowers appear through summer and attract all kinds of pollinators, including butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Several butterfly species lay eggs on buttonbush, so don’t be surprised if you spot caterpillars munching leaves. Plants grow to shrub size, reaching 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-10.
Introduced in 1956, ‘Sugar Baby’ watermelon is a type of icebox or picnic watermelon. It produces small fruits that are 7 to 8 inches across—just the right size for fitting in the fridge or a picnic basket. Red flesh has a high brix value, which measures sugar content.
Surprise guests with these homemade treats that beg for seconds.
Ingredients: 1 pound strawberries; 1 cup powdered sugar; 13-ounce jar hazelnut spread; 1 box pie crusts; 2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 stick of butter.
Apples boast skin in an array of shades, from classic red and yellow, to pale green, to streaked and striped varieties. For this autumn fruit, beauty is more than skin deep. A medium apple (tennis ball size) offers 80 calories, no fat, cholesterol or sodium, and is packed with good-for-you fiber—5 grams per fruit. High fiber content means the natural sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream, which helps with maintaining steady blood sugar levels.
Flowering crabapples are a classic yard tree, beloved for their spring blossoms, fall fruits and fall color, if they have disease resistance. Ruby Tears is a weeping crabapple that blends disease resistance with pretty pink blooms. Red fruits form in late summer that beckon birds. If you don’t want a weeping tree, look for dwarf flowering crabapples, such as ‘Red Jewel’ (white blooms, 14 to 18 feet tall and 9 to 12 feet wide) or ‘Sugar Tyme’ (pink buds open to white blooms, 12 to 18 feet tall and wide). Ruby Tears—Size: 8 to 10 feet tall by 12 to 15 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4-7.
An unexpected dessert to add to your holiday brunch this season is a New Zealand classic known as pavlova. After beating egg whites and salt to a rigid consistency, pavlova is made by folding in corn flour, vanilla, caster sugar and white vinegar, then slow-baking the mixture until it takes on a meringue-like appearance. It is then garnished with fresh fruit, usually cranberries, and served on a cake stand.
Chinese pistachio (Pistacia chinensis) is a good choice for brilliant fall color in areas where the sugar maple won't grow. The leaves are slow to appear in the spring but hang on late in the fall, turning a brilliant reddish orange. Used for root stock for the pistachio nut tree (P. vera), Chinese pistachio produces fruits that aren't palatable to humans, but birds like them. Medium-sized tree (to 35 feet tall), drought resistant, USDA Zones 6b to 9.