My elderberry is coming back!

Sambucus Nigra Black Beauty

Unlike this beauty pictured above, mine are not nearly ready to bloom. Already it stands at a bushy four feet, two years after workers butchered the trees still in early bloom to clear the way for the house painters. They left the plants so damaged that we had to have someone cut them down entirely. Blessedly, they left the roots and stumps. Now they look like this . . .

Sambucus Nigra Black Beauty

Yesterday’s blog post (“Wordless Wednesday” 6/1/2022) featured the Black Beauty elderberry in various stages of bloom. The plant is a deciduous shrub that can reach six to eight feet and a spread of five feet. In May, tiny mauve blossoms like mine, or white blossoms like these below, open on flat bracts at the ends of branches . . .

Stock photo of white elderberry blossoms

. . . and scent my garden with an aromatic blend of citrus, passionflower, and vanilla. Their muted yet pungent fragrance wafts from the back gardens out to the front street from late spring well into mid-June, sometimes later. Around August, the faded blossoms form purple berries, a veritable feast for the birds flitting about among the branches.

Elderberry fruits

Ripe berries can be harvested for elderberry pan sauces, syrup, and an old-fashioned home-made wine or cordial. I’ve never tried any of these as I planted just two elderberry bushes for ornamental purposes only, to help create a sense of enclosure for a secret garden on the north side of our house.

Old-Fashioned Homemade Elderberry Wine

One of these days, out of curiosity, I just may buy a bottle of store-bought Manischewitz.


Celebrating just over fifty years of holy matrimony, I am blessed to be a mother of two and grandmother of seven. Much of my writing speaks to the culture and tradition of the Deep South, where I spent the first thirty-five years of my life before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. As a poet and essayist, I’ve published both online and in print media. I launched this INVITATION TO THE GARDEN blog the summer of 2017 on I look forward to hearing your stories, too!

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