DescriptionElderberries (Sambucus nigra) are a common site in hedgerows across the whole of the UK - they grow just about anywhere. Elders grow extremely fast, so if you need an instant hedge, this is the one to go for! Excellent for exposed sites, poor soil, damp spots - their only real requirement is a few hours of sunlight per day.
Elders bring a lot of other benefits to the garden - the profuse white blossom in spring is very showy, and makes a delicious flavouring for a cordial or jelly. It also pairs extremely well with gooseberries, so you can add to any gooseberry recipe. The berries which appear in late summer are poisonous raw, but are edible when cooked and have very high levels of anthocyanidins - plant pigments which give the berries their dark purple colour. They are very rich in Vitamin C, and elderberry supplements have a long history of use against coughs and colds. Elderberry wine is a staple for those who make hedgerow wines - some of the best are said to taste like a good French Burgundy!
As Elderberry is so vigorous in growth, allow more space when planting than with other hedging species - 2 plants per metre is plenty. It can be tricky to control if mixed in with other hedging, as it will tend to dominate, so plant a clump on their own at the end of a row, or in a tricky spot where other plants will not flourish, to enjoy the fabulous flowers and fruit.