My Longtime Favorite Garden Plant: Elderberry Trees

Monday, February 26, 2018
I have loved elderberry trees (actually a shrub, not a true tree) for many years, and now that I am focusing on native gardening, these were first on my list.  I love how they almost look like a seeded eucalyptus and have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties (it's a diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and powerful antioxidant with more flavonoids than blueberries or goji berries.  The blue elderberry has beautiful clusters of creamy white flowers (these are edible) that give way to delicious elderberries that have tremendous medicinal properties.  I am using both the Sambucus nigra spp. caerulea (blue elderberry) and the Sambucus racemosa (red elderberry) in my garden.  A few weeks ago, I found this lovely video by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, and I imagine one day I will be making videos like this one from my own established garden.  I have always been drawn to people like her: lovers of plants that have a deep understanding of the wisdom, beauty, and strength that plants can bring to our lives.  I would absolutely love to spend a day with Rosemary in her garden, absorbing her knowledge and gardening secrets.

Another thing I learned from watching her video is that elders typically grow on the edge of gardens, regarded as protectors, watching over the other plants of the garden.  There is tree lore that is pretty cool to read, as well as a Hans Christian Andersen (1845) fairy tale about the elder tree called "The Little Elder Tree Mother".   I planted our red and blue elderberries at the edge of our garden, with the blue elderberry being planted in the southeastern-most corner at the edge of the garden, where it can "watch over", and the red elderberry growing at the northern edge of our property along a rain garden, as it likes to grow near streams.  I am excited to put these baby elders into the ground and see them grow and mature over the coming years.  x o, Karli

P.S.  Here is a picture of a blue elderberry I planted in my first garden many years ago (2004):


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