Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Frothy Flower Clusters Atop Filigree Foliage .. Sambucus 'Black Lace'

If I were compelled to choose a recently released cultivar, a shrub that appeared in garden nurseries only the past few years and one that elicits a 'happy dance' when the foliage leafs out in Spring, that plant would be Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace.'

Such an easy plant! A beauty that never stirs up a fuss, it deserves a starring role in gardens.
The divine, deeply cut foliage is richly colored, as you see. Darkly dramatic 'Black Lace' forms wonderful alliances when grown amidst a canvas of greenery.
Despite the fact that I generally turn my nose up at pale pink or white when selecting flowers that will occupy important spots in the garden, I love the frothy flowers on Sambucus 'Black Lace.' They enliven two rather sedate, semi-shaded areas of my small plot: One 'Black Lace' grows in the 'secret garden' adjoining a neighboring stucco garage wall;
and on the far opposite side, another plant rises up in a border along the western perimeter.
I received two plants to trial before they were available in nurseries, and they've outperformed my expectations as they've grown taller and matured.
Only May 3rd and flowerheads are forming!
I can't imagine the garden without this lacy character!


  1. I've been toying with the notion of getting 'Guincho Purple' elderberry for awhile...this adds another dark-leaved cultivar to my wish list.

  2. Hi PB
    I can't say that I'm familiar w/ 'Guincho Purple' but I've just been out in the garden gushing over 'Black Lace,' and think you might find it deserves a spot in your garden!

  3. Alice:
    It is one of the best sellers here, especially for people wanting something similar, but hardier than a ubiquitous filagreed Japanese Maple. My only complaint is the scent when its leaves are bruised. I have been pondering a variegated form..... are you familiar with it? Hope that your gardens have been keeping you happily busy!

  4. Barry my dear!
    I can't say I've noticed an unpleasant scent from the leaves.
    I grow a variegated Sambucus, too, but it's quite a monster. I've moved it because it was taking over an area along a pathway and now it is free to sprawl and lighten up my secret garden.

  5. I have a regular old Elderberry bush and its blooms are ready to pop as well. I do like the Black Lace, love the contrast of the pink blooms to the dark foliage.
    The birds eat all my berries...lucky if I get one just to taste.

  6. Janet,
    The elderberries are great habitat plants!