Clear Morning Moments

Farm Life

When Elderberries Visit...and Refuse to Leave

Several years ago, an elderberry bush began growing by the walkway to my front porch.

It sprouted under and around an established barberry bush. It did not belong there, but I was intrigued so I left it to grow. Sure enough, it bloomed and bore berries that were quickly consumed by the very birds which I suspect "sowed" it there in the first place.

I let it grow there for two years. That was a mistake. I fully intended to dig it up and transplant it back by the vegetable garden. It grew and flourished and I finally gave permission for it to be dug out because it really too large and overpowering for that location. My husband dug and dug. Eventually, it was gone. Or so we thought.

This year, it came back with a vengeance - bigger and better than ever. It is covered with more blooms than ever before. Assuming we can keep the birds away, I'm going to go ahead and harvest as many berries as I can and make them into juice, cordial, or wine.

At the end of the season, we will try, once again, to dig it out. Before we do, though, I am going to root some cuttings so I can plant a long, elderberry hedgerow alongside the vegetable garden. That spot will receive full sun that should make the plants bloom even better than the half-sun location by the front porch porch. Wherever they are planted, it is clear that elderberries are hardy and hard to kill. I like plants like that!

The National Gardening Association has this to say about growing elderberries:

The prize for growing elderberries is the fragrant, edible flowers and the delicious fruits. The dark purple berries contain vitamins A and B, and more vitamin C than oranges. They are also high in cancer-fighting antioxidants. In fact, elderberry fruits have historically been used to treat many ailments, such as respiratory problems, colds, and flus. Plus, they are tasty when used in juices, jellies, jams, teas, pies, and wine. You can use the umbrella-shaped, elderberry blossoms for making a delicious fritters or even champagne (see recipe in this issue). And if you don't want to eat the berries, the birds certainly will love them.

Will this determined shrub come back strong again next year in this same spot?

I'd put money on it.

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Tori Rozanski, Owner


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