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”.
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.
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!