Looking outside our dining room window where I write, I can see the elderberry bush in our garden towering statuesquely over the shrubs around it. Here in South Africa it will be springtime soon, and the elderberry bush will blanket itself with a bridal display of fine white blossoms. Bees and other tiny wildlife will gather there to feast. After that, it will droop with clusters of nearly black berries, and my children and I will drag chairs outside. Bowls containing elderberries will litter my kitchen as we cook up a fragrant storm.
Native to northern America, the elderberry bush has become beloved around the world. With good reason: there are so many benefits to giving it a place in your eco garden. It can add to your sustainable gardening practices, and the berries are wonderfully healthy for the body. Here are some of the perks of the bush and berries (to follow: a recipe for irresistibly delicious, vitality-boosting elderberry syrup!)
It’s phenomenal bee fodder, so planting bushes aids the environment and your local ecosystem.
In spring, the flowering bushes are a showstopper.
Kids love to help pick the little berries! Harvesting becomes an excuse for outdoor play, giving them a chance to get some fresh air and sunshine. It can also be a natural learning initiative as you teach them about bees and sustainability, and about the benefits of organic farming. Just make sure they don’t pop the raw berries into their mouths, as they are poisonous if consumed in sufficient quantities.
They grow so fast that branches can be clipped for mulch to use as part of your organic gardening practices.
The berries are rich in antioxidants and vitamins.
They can boost your immune system and help to fight cold and flu symptoms.
They can help to tame allergies, stress, UTI’s and inflammation.
They are good for your heart!
As always, be sure to check with your health advisor before taking elderberries for medicinal purposes.
If you don’t have much garden space but are itching to plant some elderberries, don’t despair! You can plant elderberry bushes in large garden pots, such as big ceramic pots or terracotta pots. Here’s how.
As promised, we’ve got a wonderful recipe for elderberry syrup to share with you. It contains:
· grated ginger
· ground cloves
· and of course, black elderberries.
The ingredients are gently simmered together in water to make a thick, flavor-packed syrup, then strained into bottles. It sounds divine, am I right? Head over to Wellness Mama to get the full recipe.
Written by Rifke Hill
About the Author
Rifke Hill was raised on the sort of farm your grandparents told tales about – milking cows, gathering eggs, hoeing the soil, and building fires to heat water. She now spends part of her time copywriting online as a freelancer. The rest of it is spent nurturing and teaching her four energetic children, growing vegetables, baking bread, reading voraciously, having coffee with the neighbors, and enjoying the sunny slopes of the smallholding where she lives, in the Garden Route, South Africa.