Elderflowers with attitude.

The common elder plant, Sambucus, is found in most country hedgerows, where we all pick the lacy flowerheads to make Elderflower cordial, a lovely refreshing summer drink to enjoy when the temperature rises. The hybridisers have been working on the shrub  and produced a number of variations – my favourite being “Black Lace”.

Long view

The foliage is wonderful. To start with, it has the most gorgeous deep purple leaves which look amazing and contrast beautifully with the foliage of surrounding shrubs and this is even before it thinks of having any blossom.


Then the flower umbels are formed – deep pink buds to start with and then ending up pale pink.

Flower umbel

The colour goes so beautifully with the leaves, and that elderflower perfume – wow -its a knockout!


Eventually they form masses of black berries which the birds absolutely adore – this photo was taken last autumn. The flowers are a magnet for all sorts of insects, so definitely a wildlife friendly shrub, as well as looking and smelling  gorgeous for us humans.


I could sell any number of shrubs grown from cuttings on my open days, but it is protected by Plant Breeders Rights, can’t say that I blame them, it must have taken a number of years to develop such a lovely shrub. If anyone wants one, then they will have to go to the garden centre or nursery before they can start making their elderflower cordial.


I think it is a really beautiful bush, it grows to about 10ft x10ft, but could be kept smaller by removing a third of the older branches each year. Everyone should have one in their garden if they have room, once seen it is a “must have” plant!

This entry was posted in News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Elderflowers with attitude.

  1. Becky says:

    You have a really beautiful plant there. I have wild ones growing here and the birds love the berries. I love your blog!

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Becky for your kind comments, the wild ones are very wildlife friendly aren’t they and the cultivated ones are just as good bringing in the bees and butterflies to the garden.

  2. Love this shrub. I have it in my garden as well, and I do cut it back every spring, I find the new growth the darkest. Of course I am missing out on the flowers and berries so maybe next year I will let it go.

    • Pauline says:

      Hi Deborah, I usually just cut out the oldest, tallest branches which then sprout from the base. By doing 1/3 at a time we can keep the shrub under control and also enjoy the flowers and berries – a win-win situation for us and the wildlife I think.

  3. catmint says:

    I love this shrub too. always wanted it in the garden but somehow never got round to it and now don’t really have a place for it. So I’ll just enjoy yours and your wonderful photos and that amazing gate. How did the open garden weekend go?

    • Pauline says:

      So sorry your garden is completely full Catmint, and you have no room for Black Lace, I promise to keep photographing it for you !!
      Our open garden weekend is this coming one 11/12 June – have just come in exhausted – only 2 days to go – will we be ready in time, I hope so !!!

  4. Lovely shrub which I have been admiring from a distance for a while. Maybe I will have to try one!

  5. Christina says:

    Just beautiful isn’t it. There’re not available here, well I’ve never seen one anywhere so I carried one back when I was planting a garden I designed in Ireland so now it is at the back of the triangular rose bed (now known as the ‘Pink frilly knickers border- see previous post). With the white flowers from the wild plant I make Elder flower sorbet, it’s delicious, if you want the recipe let me know. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      Good for you Christina, bringing one back from Ireland, it will look super at the back of your pink frilly knicker border ! The sorbet recipe sounds lovely, thank you for offering to send it – do you have my e.mail address?

  6. Pingback: Blushing Elderflower. | Meadow, Grove and Stream

Comments are closed.