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Elderberry berries

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Elderberry
Sambucus nigra

A small deciduous tree or shrub, native to the UK and Europe. Grows to around 6 metres, with feather-like leaves, large sprays of creamy-white flowers in the spring, followed by small black berries.
Friendly for Bees
Friendly for Birds

Availability: Out of stock

From: £1.44

Description
Common Elder (also known as Black Elder or just Elder) is found predominantly in countryside hedgerows, easily identified by its large sprays of fragrant creamy-white flowers in the spring followed by the sprays of black berries in the late summer.


Planting Position
Suitable for most locations and soil types. Can handle exposed and coastal sites and is fairly hardy. Best grown in fertile, moist but well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. It will even thrive on extremely chalky soils.


Size
Growth Rate: Medium
Final Height: 6-8m
Final Spread: 3-5m


Foliage & Flowers
Leaves are feather-like in shape (pinnate), turning yellow in the autumn. Flowers are both male and female and are in large flat sprays, these are followed by black berries in late summer.


Plant Interest
Elder is very attractive to wildlife; the flowers provide nectar for bees and insects, and many moth caterpillars feed on the foliage, including the white spotted pug, swallowtail, dot moth and buff ermine. Various birds eat the berries, and small mammals such as dormice and bank voles will eat both the flowers and the berries.


Landscape Use
Elder works well as part of a mixed native hedge or as a specimen plant in a wildlife garden. It naturalises in woodland, scrub and wasteland.


Uses 
The timber is hard and often used for whittling and carving. The flowers are used for making wine, cordial and tea or they can be fried to make fritters. The berries can be used to make wine and preserves or can be baked in a pie with other fruits. The flowers and berries are mildly poisionous, so ensure they are cooked before eating.

Planting may be carried out at any time between early-November and mid-May.

Planting Willow and Poplar Setts / Cuttings

The cuttings are quick and easy to plant. They are provided with a slanted cut at the base and a straight cut at the top to make insertion into the ground easier and distinguish top from bottom. They can simply be pushed into loose cultivated soil and firmed in. They will need no support. In firmer soils simply make a vertical slit with a spade and push the cutting to the bottom of the slit and firm well by treading. Alternatively a narrow hole may be made with a bar or spike and the cutting pushed to the bottom and firmed well. For larger-scale planting schemes, a mole-plough or subsoil blade may be pulled through the ground in rows and the cuttings simply pushed into the loosened soil slit and firmed in by foot.

In order to get strong root development, you must ensure there is sufficient length below the soil level. The smallest cuttings (30cm / 1ft) must be planted so that only 5cm (2") is showing above ground. This makes them vulnerable to being smothered by weeds and grass before they get away, and so they are only suited to situations where they will receive a high standard of care in the early days. The two foot long cuttings (60 cm) are planted so that half is in the soil. Being larger they contain greater reserves of energy and grow away faster. In most situations the 60cm (2ft) cuttings are the best option and will produce a tree, if looked after, of 180-240cm (6 - 8ft) high in the first growing season.

All the cuttings are vulnerable to surrounding competition and often the reason for failure is down to the freshly planted cuttings having to compete with existing vegetation in the early stages, whilst they are trying to grow new roots. It is always best to clear the area of any existing vegetation where possible and keep control of this during the first 18 months in order to give the plants the best chance of success.

 

Planting Bare Root Whips and Hedging

Bare root plants can planted by notch or pit planting methods. For more information, please download this helpsheet.

Planting bare root whips and hedging help sheet

 

The decision on whether to plant rooted trees and/or which size of cuttings will depend on:

      - How easy a job you want planting to be

      - How well you will look after your trees 

      - Your soil type and site

      - How quickly you need results

 

All sizes of cutting root equally well.

The smallest one foot long (30 cm) cuttings must be planted so that only 2 inches (5 cm) is showing above ground. This makes them vulnerable to being smothered by weeds and grass before they get away, and so they are only suited to situations where they will receive a high standard of care in the early days. The two foot long cuttings (60 cm) are planted so that half is in the soil. This means that the new growth starts above weed and grass height. Being larger they also contain greater reserves of energy and grow away faster. 

In most situations the 2 foot long (60 cm) cuttings are the best option and will produce a tree, if looked after, of 6 - 8ft high in the first growing season.

On dry sites such as sands and gravels, or on banks, we would suggest that you plant a longer cutting and insert a larger proportion into the soil. Both the hybrid willows and poplars have the ability to make roots from any part of the stem and so, if planted deeply, will produce deep roots, which will always find moisture. 

The rooted trees and longer cuttings will cope better with difficult conditions and weed or grass competition to give instantly visible results.

Further information on rooted or unrooted plants can be found here.

Payment

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Delivery

Our bare root plants and cuttings are delivered between November and May (specific dates cannot be guaranteed) but we do encourage early planting for the best results.

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Most orders are dispatched within 3-5 working days where stocks are available. If they are not available at the time of order you will be notified and an alternative delivery date discussed with you. 

Our e-Gift Vouchers will be sent out within 24 hours of order.

We ship to mainland UK and the Isle of Wight (although surcharges may be incurred in some more remote areas – see below). Our orders are generally sent out using a national courier but for local deliveries, we may use our own couriers. Orders can also be collected from the nursery by prior appointment and we are more than happy for you to do this if you prefer. 

Our standard delivery charge is £15 plus VAT. This is for a next day delivery service in areas where this is available (i.e. mainland UK). For some of our products, such as seeds and planting accessories, the delivery charge is £4.95 + VAT. Our e-Gift Vouchers do not incur a delivery charge (please select 'Free Shipping' at the Checkout). For further information about Delivery, please click here.

There's usually no need to wait in for a delivery, our couriers will leave it in a safe place for you. If there is somewhere in particular you would like it left, please let us know at the time of ordering.

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It is important to look after your trees as they mature so now click on After-Planting Care for some useful guide-lines.