Monday, July 6, 2009

White ... is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing... ~ G. K. Chesterton

Way up here in the frozen north I get a bad case of zone envy from time to time. Seeing all the crepe myrtles, lace cap hydrangeas, China roses, and azaleas on garden blogger's sites makes me nostalgic for the years I lived in northern Alabama and grew those wonderful plants.

Not being able to grow the different hydrangeas is especially frustrating this time of year. I have the lovely Annabell and she is beginning to bloom, still a little more variety would be nice. Then, coming home last evening I caught a glimpse of the common elderberry that makes it's home in pastures and in hedgerows all over our county. This is as nice as any lacecap and it blooms at approximately the same time as many hydrangea. Elderberry blooms may not come in pinks and blues, but the flowers are as large as my hand and they have the added attraction of producing fruit for the birds.




I believe these will serve the purpose nicely and carry me through until Annabell blooms. Maybe this year I'll even grab a few berries and try making a pie.




I'm considering adding one of the hybrid elderberries to my yard. Sambucus Black Lace would be a good choice with its finely cut black foliage to add interest even when the shrub is not in bloom. Black Lace will also do a nice job substituting for the Japanese maples I can't grow. If anyone of you grow any of the Sambucus in your garden, please let me now what your experience has been.

A little folklore about he elderberry. In ancient times the elderberry was considered charmed and anyone who burned its wood would be plagued by bad luck. Children whispered stories of unlucky folks who fell asleep under the elderberry and were carried away to the realm of the faeries. Flutes made from the wood created enchanted music and charms worn round the neck would ward off evil. Sounds like a useful bush to have, just don't set your lounge chairs beneath it or you could fall asleep and wake up with the faeries:)

33 comments:

tina said...

White is great in the garden. I was noticing all the elderberries here blooming at the end of May and even still now and thought it was a wild hydrangea. Ha! My father in law identified it for me and between the two of us we figured it out. I grow Black Lace but only added it this spring. I've already moved it once but it is doing well. The foliage does lighten up as summer goes on. But I wanted to tell you of a substitute for Japanese maples in your zone. I plan to post on mine one of these days. It is Korean maple, Acer pseudosiebaldiana. Check it out. I love mine but it is tiny right now. Got it at Don Shadows last spring. Looks just like a J. maple and full moon combined. Very neat tree. Gotta go out and work. ttyl

Judy said...

Marnie, one of my two favourites for PB&J is elderberry jelly. The pie is not really good for people with dentures, though, because of all the seeds.
My grandmother used to tell the story of her mil walking into the kitchen to see my mother in the high chair, eating raw elderberries, the way we would now give the little dears frozen peas. The woman was just aghast!!

Tatyana said...

Your description of the elderberry makes me want to have one in my garden!

ShySongbird said...

Well that was strange, I had just headed over to your blog when I heard a comment reach mine so I popped back and it was from you, thank you :)

We have Elderberries in full flower all around the countryside at the moment, and in some gardens. My Nan used to make Elderflower wine and I remember one year it exploded in her larder! Sorry to rub it in but I have a Lacecap Hydrangea just coming into flower ;) However I think yours is a very good idea Elderflowers are so pretty and the birds love the berries!

A very interesting post and pretty photos.

Susie said...

Interesting story about the elderberry. It has very pretty blooms but I have never grown it before.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I had not read the folklore about the elderberry. A friend of mine makes elderberry jelly every year. We are the lucky receipents of a jar or two each year. She has also made some wine. I can't vouch for it since I am not a wine drinker in general.

I do grow the black elderberry bush. It is great. I have it in semi shade and it still get fairly black. You need to grow it in full sun to get that really black color.

Cheryl said...

Hi Marnie....Elder is one of my favourite tree/shrub.....it grows in our hedgerows and it is dotted all around the boundary of my garden. I have elder black lace in my garden and it is a joy......quite beautiful, I have never regretted planting it......

I am so glad that you posted about this delightful plant.......

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Tina, guess it's too soon for you to have an opinion on Black Lace. I did some research on the Korean Maple, it sounds like a good substitute for the Japaneses Maple. I have spindle gall on my sugar maples and can't find any info about whether Korean maples are prone to it. It's unsightly but not dangerous to the tree.

Hi Judy, just off the shrub elderberry is really sour. Ewww. I've never eaten the jam but I think I did have the pie at a church picnic years ago.

Tatyana, they do have lovely blooms and fruit for the birds. A doubly good choice.

Hi Songbird, interesting your elders are blooming at the same time. I can imagine the wine exploding. What a mess. I like the unusual black foliage of the new cultivars. Deeply cut black foliage like lace with very pale pinkish blooms. Sounds really nice.

Hi Susie, I don't see many people growing elderberry in their gardens. Kind of underused. It may not grow well in your area.

Hi Lisa, thanks for the tip. I have a site in 6 hours of sun. That would probably be ok.

Cheryl, thanks for the recommendation. It's always nice to get information from gardeners and not depend on the vendors to know much.

Marnie

Connie said...

The Elder flowers are so pretty...and they are very useful as well. If you pick and dry them, and make into a tea, they are an excellent flu remedy.
I have an Annabelle hydrangea in beautiful bloom right now. I love it, and it is special because my granddaughter's name is Annabelle. It was a gift from 2 of my gardening friends.

Abe Lincoln said...

Elderberry reminds me of what we call, "Snowball" which is a verbena-type plant. I wish I had a big one. To think that we had one when we bought the house new and somewhere since 1962 it got gone. LOL

I might see if I can come up with an Elderberry bush -- I want to get a red bud. Those used to pop up here like weeds -- the birds planted them but not this year.

TC said...

May as well make some wine from the elderberries while you're at it Ms. Marnie. And I was thinkin, it might not be too awful bad wakin up with a couple of faeries. ;~P

Rosey Pollen said...

Zone Envy is REAL. I get it a lot too.
I love white blooms. Yours are gorgeous.
Rosey

beckie said...

Marnie, I know what you mean about the blooms of the warmer zones, but at least we have a little cooler weather to enjoy our gardens in.

I just posted a mystery plant, and am wondering if it is the elderberry you are talking about? They have been blooming ofor 2 weeks now along ride sides and are really pretty. Could you take a look and see if that's what they are? And could we grow them in our gardens with out fear of them taking over?

Kathleen said...

Hi Marnie. I can sing the praises of the elderberries from dawn to dusk too. I love them. I have sambucus nigra in my back yard right now and it's gorgeous (if that's not conceited to say). I have been falling in love with the black lace version as well this year. It really would be a good substitute for a Japanese Maple ~ in fact, I mistook one the other day for a maple. The birds really like mine too and it's put on a fantastic floral display for the longest time this year. Maybe one plus for the wet, cool weather?? Anyway, I planted mine four years ago and prune it quite a bit each year so that it's really bushy and full instead of floppy & leggy (like that Abraham Darby!!)

Jamie and Randy said...

What lovely blooms! I wonder if the berries on the 'Pop Gun' elder around here are edible?--Randy

BeadedTail said...

Such interesting folklore about the elderberry! I like a pop of white in a garden and these are certainly a good choice!

Rose said...

Marnie, I have been enjoying looking at the wildflowers along the roadsides lately, but I can't identify most of them. Thanks for id.ing the elderberry--I will keep a look out for it. But I will remember not to nap under one:)

Darla said...

My love for white in the garden has grown this year for sure.

Sweet Repose said...

I used to forage for elderberries all the time and made elderberry jams...yummm...I too am planning to plant some on the ranch, if only for the birds to feast on and I'm sure they will...I'll be careful not to fall asleep under the bushes...eeee...

I'm so happy to see the bees back, 'cause the spraying has never ended. I would love to have a wild hive in one of my trees, wouldn't that just be spectacular...but hard to harvest!

sweet bay said...

I have come to really appreciate white in the garden as well. White was Elizabeth Lawrence's favorite color in the garden.

Elderberry grows everywhere here. It's one of those plants you *cannot* kill! lol No matter how much it's mowed it always comes back. I have one in bloom in a small lumber pile by the horses' stalls.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Connie, very interesting about the tea helping with flu symptoms. I'll remember that this winter. Isn't Annabell a lovely name. A special hydrangea for your granddaughter's namesake and because it was a gift.

Hi Abe, the birds always plant their favorite shrubs;) Grab a handful of seed when they are ripe. You should have a bush in a couple years. I'm not sure the new hybrids will produce seed like the old wild ones do.

Hi TC, I'm just not a wine lover, I'd rather have jam or pie. As for waking up with the faeries--if you drink enough wine that can happen no matter where you sleep.

Hi Rosey, it doesn't seem fair does it. As Beckie says, we do get to garden in a little cooler weather;)

Hi Beckie, yes your second myster plant is sambucus, elderberry. Grab some ripe berries and bring them home to plant.

Kathleen, I've been researching and can't decide between the Black Lace and the Sutherland Gold. Wouldn't they look nice together?

Hi Randy, I've never heard of that one. Odd name;)

Hi BeadedTail, I agree, those huge blooms are a standout.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Rose, right, do not get out of your car and take a nap along the roadside;) You would have more problems than just faeries;)

Darla, it didn't use to be one of my favorite colors either. Like you, white has grown on me;)

Hi Sharon, elderberry jam sounds so good, I've never tried making any jams. Wherever your bees are living must be a spot that isn't sprayed. I have a wild hive here, it's been here since I moved in 20 years ago. Every couple years they swarm and half the hive goes off to find a new place. Guess you'd have to talk to a beekeeper to learn how to collect honey.

Hi Sweetbay, same here, it grows up in thickets that the deer like to hide in.
Marnie

walk2write said...

White flowers have always been my favorites but especially welcome here. They seem to cool things off and look so beautiful in the moonlight. Now I'm a bit envious. I don't think elderberry would grow here in this heat.

On said...

Oooo... your photos are simply GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love the blossom flowers!!!

On On
panda.cwahi.net

perennialgardener said...

Oh the Elderberry is a nice substitute for the hydranges & Japanese Maples in your garden. Black Lace is gorgeous! I don't have any in my garden since space is at a premium for large shrubs. ;)

Patsi 'Garden Endeavors' said...

The heck with hydranges !

Your elderberries are beautiful !
Enchanting story also.

Sherri said...

Marnie, I remember making elderberry jelly with my Aunt when I was growing up. Thanks for sharing!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Walk2Write, zone envy never goes from south to north;) I expect you can grow Sambucus mexicana and probably others as well.

Hi On On, I love them too. The clumps are huge and each tiny, individual flower is perfect.

Hi Patsi, I want it all;)

Sherri, a lot of bloggers have made the jam. That's something I haven't tried.

Marnie

Nan and =^..^= said...

The elderberries are blooming here and there in our yard, too! Enjoyed the story about them!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Nan, those old folktales are interesting. I always wonder how old superstitions get started.
Marnie

Sue said...

I agree with you about elderberry blooms being as pretty as hydrangeas. I planted a couple of viburnums to hide the view of the neighbors' yard next to my garden across the street, but also so there would be berries for the birds. One of them bloomed already, and so far, I'm keeping the berries, as the bush doesn't look stressed. It looks like the other is about to bloom now. I'm excited about that!

I have a small growing pink hydrangea that is about to bloom, too. This will be it's second year. I deadheaded it last year, and it didn't bloom the rest of the season.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Love the elderberry--I didn't know much about it, thanks!

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