Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace'

Plant Of The Week #6
Black Lace Elderberry

This oh-so-trendy shrub is currently blocking the sight-line triangle in one of my parking strips. We "forgot" to get a permit for planting in the City's Right-of-Way and surely this large shrub that can be trained into a small tree would not have been allowed. Oh well! It's grown fast since we planted it in October 2006, the same year it was named "Best New Plant" at the ANLA garden show, (yup, plants get awards, too). I love this: "BLACK LACE is a stunning development in Elderberry breeding." Indeed!

Here it's quite nicely set off by the yellow Sedum, red Uncinia, green Chasmanthus, greenish pink Ceanothus and grayish Oleria. Don't worry, all of these plants are future POTWs.

The reason everybody is so excited about this new variety of elderberry is likely that the finely dissected dark purple leaf is always interesting for one, but then it blooms with huge pink panicles that provide a big contrast against the foliage for a month. And they smell great too. It's pretty cool. It will provide a great accent surrounded by smaller plants, or as a backdrop for plants with brighter foliage. It's hardy, too. USDA zones 4-9. It grows VERY fast, but like all elderberries you can cut it back to the ground in late winter and it will happily come back quickly. Ours is already 6' tall and getting taller fast after only 1.75 years in the ground.

Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace' should be fairly drought tolerant although it will wilt in the afternoon as ours does when it is really hot and dry. So far it's been pest free.

"I couldn't see you behind that stunning development in Elderberry breeding! Here's my insurance card. Sorry about your Prius."

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