Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’

What could be more beautiful?

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.

16 thoughts on “Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’

  1. Hello again, Christina 🙂

    I love the depth of colour on the foliage of this plant. I have considered growing it many times but don’t have enough room for it in my small, sunnier front garden. I have noticed that my darker heucheras have wonderful deep leaves in the sunshine.

    I also love the delicate flowers of this plant too. Mmm… maybe one day I’ll find space for Sambucus in my garden and it would be ‘Black Lace’ I’d have. Enjoy yours, looks like it is happy living with you 😀

  2. Hi Christina, Every year I look at native elder, ‘Black Lace’ and think, “Now, where can I possibly squeeze this in?” Unfortunately, I have more shade than sun in the backyard. It is good to know from your post that it needs sun to have the best color. I will have to try to find a sunny spot for one.

  3. It is a really beautiful shrub, I cut 1/3 of mine right down each year because otherwise it grows too big, well over 12ft! Ours is in tight bud at the moment, another couple of weeks of sunshine and we will be joining you!

  4. I have 3 sambucus nigra ‘Black lace’ in differing positions (sun, shade, clay, rocks etc). When I held my ‘garden opening’ on Sunday, one visitor was so impressed that she jumped into her car and drove straight to the vivaio that supplied them and bought one for herself!

  5. A gorgeous plant that I wish I had the space for. I do love umbellifer flowers. I was admiring a hedgerow of cow parsley last night. I just love the delicate, floaty nature of the flowers and the contrast with the dark leaves and pinky flowers of Sambucus is particularly fine.

  6. I do love this elder. It romps away in my clay soil, and in fact has made quite a large shrub/tree. I have pruned it, but not hard enough- the mature branches arn’t pretty- but the wonderful flowers and foliage- and the pink elderflower cordial- are worth it.

  7. My local vivaio is the Salto del Prete at Canale, just below Città della Pieve on the Moiano road t 0578 294506. They are trying to build up a range of more interesting plants and support ‘green’ gardening. Not really convenient for you but worth a visit if you are in the area. Y

  8. We bought this beautiful plant in memory of our beloved Yorkshire terrier who died in may after 17 years. We have had a few problems with it wilting, we were gutted it was going to die, but we took it out of the direct sunlight and it has perked up again, I am so thrilled it has come back to life.

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