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Tips and common sense from our expert GARDENING GARDENING: Notebook.

Best of the Bunch Elderberry

SUNNY START SCENTING SUCCESS

Do it this week . . .

1 Winter bark - now that winter is drawing to a close, it is the perfect time to stool (coppice) shrubs grown for their winter bark colour. All Cornus alba and Cornus stolonifera (Dogwood) hybrids can be pruned back to about 150mm (6") now to stimulate vigorous growth during the summer. This strong new growth gives the best winter bark colour.

Willows such as Salix alba 'Chermesina' can be given the same treatment for the same reason. If you have Populus x jackii (syn. candicans) 'Aurora' in your garden, grown for its spectacular, large triple variegated leaves, this can be pollarded now to increase the size of the new foliage - smell the balsam scent as you prune it! Make sure that you either shred and compost the prunings or take them to one of the Kirklees Household Waste Recycling Centres.

2 Annual climbers - now is a good time to start sowing some of the wonderful annual climbers that give such beautiful displays in summer. Look out for seeds of Eccremocarpus, the Chilean Glory Vine; Rhodochiton, the Purple Bell Vine; Tropaeolum peregrinum, the Canary Creeper; Thunbergia alata, Black-eyed Susan; Asarina antirrhinifolia, the Twining Snapdragon; Ipomoea purpurea, the Morning Glory and Ipomoea lobata, the Spanish flag. Sow seeds in small pots or cellular trays and pot on as required. Germination usually takes 10 - 14 days on a warm, bright, sunny windowsill or glasshouse bench, and you should try to give them minimum temperatures of 17degC (65degF). The resulting plants can be planted outdoors in early June or can be planted as part of a container or basket in mid-M

ALTHOUGH we are all aware of the common elderberry in the hedgerow,

that outgrows all other hedgerow plants, we may not be aware of the

relatively modern hybrids that we can use in the garden as ornamental foliage

plants.

I mention this shrub now because it is the best time to hard-prune the ornamental hybrids to get the strongest growth and largest leaves.

The elder, Sambucus nigra, is a native plant of Europe and has had an interesting history in Britain, being used in Medieval times to keep the Devil away, then being revered as an excellent hedging plant in 18th-century Britain and, in more recent years having been classified in some peoples eyes as a weed. Its older wood can be used by wood turners, the flowers make a delightful summer cordial and the berries can be made into excellent wine.

For modern purposes, the wine, cordial and wood can be obtained from the wild hedgerow, but the ornamental shrub will need to be searched out in garden centres and nurseries. S.n. 'Laciniata' has finely cut, almost fern-like leaves that give a soft, delicate appearance to an otherwise ugly plant. If it's cut hard back now the leaves can reach more than 300mm (12in) in size. S.n'

Guincho Purple' produces leaves that deepen in colour as the summer progresses, reaching black-purple by autumn. S.n. 'Aurea' is the golden elder and, in a bright situation away from direct sun, the gold leaves can add a spectacular effect to a larger garden; uppermost leaves may scorch in full sun. S.n 'Black Beauty' has dark foliage but should be left unpruned for three out of every four years as it produces pink flowers followed by black berries.

My diary . . .

1 Huddersfield Town Centre Partnership Plants Fairs: These now well-established annual events have become so popular with regional nurseries and shoppers alike. I feel sure that if we had one every weekend, they would still be as popular. This year's dates are June 7 and July 5 from 9am to 4pm on New Street. With nearly 30 stalls selling a wide range of plants from across the region you can be sure there will be some unusual plants for all you plant hunters and some excellent bargains. Visit www.huddersfield-htcpl.co.uk for more information.

2 SouthCrosland andNetherton Gardeners'Association Spring Show; Put Saturday, March 15, in your diary and call in between 3pmand 4pm to see one of the best local shows. Have 50p at the ready to get in and you can also enjoy a cup of tea and some wonderful home-made cakes as well. Upstairs at the NethertonMethodist Church on Chapel Street you will see spring in all its glory with nearly 40 classes of entries, from miniature narcissi and potted primulas to tasty loaves of bread. Call Michele Heeley on 01484 666104 for more details and a show schedule if you fancy entering the show yourself.

3 If you are a secretary of a local garden club and you have an event coming up why not write to me at the usual address and, giving at least three weeks notice. I will ensure Huddersfield gets to know about it.

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ELDERBERRIES: The plant has been popular for centuries
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Feb 23, 2008
Words:822
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