Sambucus Nigra Common Elder for Cordial or Wine Making
Familiar large shrub or small tree with rugged, fissured bark. Flattened heads of cream-coloured flowers in June, followed by heavy bunches of shining black fruits used in wine-making and cordial.
For those in the know, Sambucus Nigra (or Common Elder to people that speak proper) is a fast growing tree or shrub. The young soft and green shoots grow very quickly and harden off to normal branches.
If you are planning on making elderflower cordial, pick the flowers on a sunny day when they are a creamy colour. If any of the flowers are brown, they are beyond their best. Look at 3 different websites and you will find 5 ways of making cordial. The lessons we learned the hard way are:
1) When picking the flowers, do not shake them too hard as you get covered in pollen.
2) If you leave the flowers in plastic bags for more than one hot summers day, they start to rot and smell awful.
3) If your girlfriend has a high pitched scream and doesn't like insects in the house, invest in ear defenders or do the stem removal outside.
4) If the cordial ferments while in plastic bottles, the exploding sticky warp speed mess only hits important things. Best to freeze or consume quickly.
5) Emotional blackmail is more effective than offering a share of the spoils when seeking free labour from friends and family.
Using Sambus Nigra Elderflower as Hedging
Elder (Sambucus nigra) is native, British hedging tree, generally planted as part of a mixed native hedge, using hedging species, such as such as Hawthorn, Hazel, Dog Rose, Blackthorn and Crab Apple although could be used to create a hedge by itself.
Expect a final height of around 8m on average although this would be considerably less if you prune it for hedging, unless you want an 8m hedge! Could be more or less depending on local conditions.
Planting Sambucus Nigra Common Elder
Sambucus Nigra is the opposite of your judgemental and high maintenance posh in-laws at Christmas in that they do not mind where they are put and rarely complain. In technical language, this means you can plant in acid to alkaline soil that is chalky, sandy, clay like or loam although more favourable results could come from chalky soil. Pick a spot in full sun or partial shade with well draining soil.
Pruning Sambucus Nigra Common Elder
You can hard prune these anytime you like and they bounce back with no problem. Having had a couple of these growing in our garden, they were hacked back with a view to killing them off. They either had 9 lives, we dreamt the whole pruning experience or they are extremely vigorous.