One of a number of ornamental varieties bred from native elder, ‘Black Lace’ makes a striking plant for the back of the border. It has very finely cut, almost black foliage, which is the perfect foil to the pink-flushed blooms. It will grow almost anywhere, including difficult conditions such as waterlogged or very chalky ground. In autumn, leaves turn rich red. To produce the best coloured leaves, some experts suggest pruning plants back to ground level every year in early spring. I don’t do this, I’m so happy to see that it has survived the winter. It needs some irrigation in my free-draining soil and hot summers; it is also planted near a bay hedge which obviously adds to the problem. It is, however, a tough plant and I think that when has really established itself it will cope better. I have moved it from a shadier position where its leaf colour was not so good, and it is described as wanting full sun.
It is planted in the triangular rose bed and forms the background to Rosa ‘Secptred Isle which is soft pink and needs something darker to highlight its beauty.