Elder, Elder Everywhere…
June. Long twilights, sticky evenings and fantastic thunderstorms. And Elder. I have an Elder tree right outside my bedroom window and it is just fantastic! The birds love it too as it offers good purchase for a young bird flying school (or so it seems!) Elder trees are a bit special as they pack a double whammy if you’re a fan of foraging and making your own drinks – in summer? The subtle summer taste of Elderflower cordial and fizz, and in the winter? Deep, purple Elderberry versions!
Elder – or Sambucus nigra if you’d rather – is native to the UK and is an insect pollinated. That means that the pollinators love it and it’s less likely to cause hay fever in comparison to trees that are wind pollinated! Bees, birds and even small mammals (mice and voles) all love Elder and happily eat the flowers and berries. So, if you’re going to go foraging, make sure you leave plenty for them as well The berries can also be used for dying, while the wood can be used for carving and crafting. Of course, you might also be aware that it makes a jolly good wand if Professor Dumbledore is anything to go by!
If you fancy giving Elder drinks a go this summer, first you need to do a spot of foraging… do watch out though, the flowers are poisonous until they are cooked! Pick them on a dry day, and try to find some away from the roadside so that they aren’t masked with a tang of car
Here’s a link to Granny’s Elderflower Cordial– it’s a tried and tested recipe!
Or, if you fancy something a little more, ahem, magic, then do head over to Two Thirsty Gardeners, where they’ve an Elderflower recipe that’ll go with a fizz! Cheers!