Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophylla ‘Eva’ (PBR)

When to plant



Hello, These are fully hard, so can be planted at any time of the year – provided the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. If you click on the following link, it will take you to our ‘when to plant’ video, which you may find helpful.



Hello Can the flowers and berries from EVA be used in the same way as elderflowers from the common Elder?



Hello there Yes the fruits when ripe can be used for cooking or for making wine.




Hello, I am not sure how old your plant is, however as a general rule these plants do tend to be relatively long lived. It does seem strange that yours has already lost all its leaves though, so do check for any signs of verticillium wilt and also make sure the plant is kept well watered (particularly if it has recently been planted). As for pruning, if it was planted this year, then its best to leave it, however if it is well established, cut down half of the stems to ground level and then shorten the remainder by half in winter.



when is the right time to prune sambucus



Hello, The best time to prune them is in winter or early spring while they are still dormant.



I recently bought a Sambucus Nigra Black Lace Eva and planted it a few weeks ago in my front garden which is South facing, in good loamy soil. I water it regularly, however the lower leaves are dying and falling off. There is new growth at the top. It has been quite windy lately and I don’t know if the plant is just losing a lot of water through its leaves. Any ideas?



Hello, Most plants lose their older lower leaves as they put on lots of new growth, so I would not be too concerned unless it is quite extreme. If it is, then it could be caused by a number of things including too much or too little water, too much fertiliser or incorrect planting depth.



Can this plant be grown in a pot?



Hello, Ultimately this will be happier in the ground, but provided the pot is large enough and you make sure it is kept really well fed and watered, then you should be able to keep it in a pot for a few years.



when is the best time to prune my sambucus nigra black lace, it usually starts to loose its foliage when it gets cold in autumn and then I cut it right back but I haven’t had any flowers this year.



Hello, If you are growing the plant for its foliage alone, then you can give it a hard prune in early spring, but if you want it to produce flowers as well, then once established, you should cut down half the stems (the older ones) to ground level in winter, and then shorten the remaining stems by half.



When and what do I feed my samba black lace for best results?



Hello, These need a good general purpose fertiliser such as Vitax Q4 or Miracle Gro, which should be applied (following the manufacturers instructions) during the growing season.



Is it too late to prune my Black Beauty its looking very leggy?



Hello, Yes, it is very late, however you could probably still get away with it if you do it soon.



will this plant be invasive like elder with the white flowers which has both an upright and forming habit? Love the shrub but don’t want the problems I have had with elder



Hello, No, this is a much better behaved plant than the common elder.



Black Lace® Elderberry

The exciting Black Lace™ Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’ P.P.) takes the traditional notion of a rangy old, plain Jane Elderberry and throws it out the window. With dark purple-red, deeply dissected foliage and a fragrant light pink bloom, this glamorous variety rewrites the way we can use the Elderberry in the landscape!

Developed in England in the late 1980’s is commonly known as the European Elderberry. It’s noted for stylish dark purple-red narrow leaves and puffy, lemon scented pink blooms in the spring.

This dramatic shrub looks stunning with its almost-black foliage. The elegant leaves are almost as ornate as real black lace.

Young stems are purple, and gradually becoming a grey-brown as they age. The light pink flowers are exquisitely visible floating on top of the dark foliage of the Black Laced Elderberry.

The whole plant is sophisticated, including dark fall berries that occur if you plant a pollination partner.

Use Black Lace® as a high-impact accent plant or plant it as an informal hedgerow. The Black Lace Elderberry is the perfect plant for the back of a mixed perennial garden. Or, keep it in a container on your patio.

Add excitement to your yard by using the Black Lace Elderberry as a hedge or foundation plant. This unique beauty even makes an ideal specimen plant or tree.

When this amazing plant first came onto the scene, it won “Best Plant of the Year,” and its reputation hasn’t wavered. Planting some Black Lace Elderberry is a no-brainer if you want beauty, berries, and excitement in your yard! Order yours today!

How to Use Black Lace Elderberry in the Landscape

You could consider this plant as a living sculpture. Black Lace Elderberry is not a perfect, rounded, uniform little ball like Green Gem Boxwood. Instead, the overall look of this stylish upright shrub is free-form, a bit flowy and wild.

You can place a single plant where it will have the space it needs to stretch out and become the magnificent specimen it wants to be. Or, keep it pruned into a tall, narrow waterfall of fascinating purple-black foliage.

Use several plants in a curving row to effortlessly create a marvelously organic flowering hedge around your patio. It provides an airy sense of privacy and elevates the look of your space.

For a hedge, plant them 4 – 5 feet apart on center. You’ll measure from the center of one to the center of the next. If you want to grow an individual plant, give it 7 – 8 feet of wiggle room.

It would make a unique and memorable anchor plant at the corner of your foundation planting. You’ll love the way it resembles Japanese Maple but adds beautiful bright berries in fall. You’ll also appreciate how low maintenance and unfussy it is.

Keep it pruned in a large pot on the patio. It will definitely take on the “Thriller” role and bring a lot of excitement to your balcony, porch or patio. Black Lace® would look great in large unglazed terra cotta or plain concrete containers. Or, pop it against brightly glazed pots of any color from gray, red, dark blue, bright yellow, deep pink, and so on. You name it!

Place one on either side of a wide gate to create a wonderful sense of anticipation to what’s beyond. The lush, ferny dark foliage beckons and the fresh lemony scent of the wide clusters of tiny, precious, fragrant pink flowers enchant you and your guests.

Use several across your property line. You’ll extend the height and improve the looks of any landscape fence.

They’ll behave as a perfectly chic backdrop to so many other plants, (including those little Green Gem Boxwood balls!) With the outstanding wispy texture of the deep leaves, they’ll partner beautifully with flowing Ornamental Grasses, spiky Yucca, stolid evergreens or rounded Rose bushes.

Black Lace® Elderberry plant thrives in wet or moderately wet soil. They can be used in Rain Gardens to filter water runoff from roofs and streets.

You can see where all this is going, right? These fabulous plants are versatile!

#ProPlantTips for Care

Plant it in just about any soil in either full sun or partial shade and give it regular water. Then, just watch it grow!

This forgiving Elderberry is complimented by hard pruning. After the first year, cut it back down to 12 inches tall to encourage a bushier plant. Every 3 years, hard prune in the spring to maintain it’s shape and remove unwanted growth.

Tip prune it each year to keep it shorter or remove the outside stems all the way to the ground to keep it in a narrow, columnar shape.

Dark purple berries ripens in the fall and can be used like its American counterpart, the Sambucus canadensis for jams and wine. The birds and wildlife enjoy these juicy dark little berries, but don’t let them eat all of them. Cook them with sweetener to make fabulous wine and tasty preserves.

For the best fruiting, plan to pair it with a Black Beauty® or Laced Up® Elderberry as a pollination partner. Use a single plant, or several Black Lace® together if you don’t want to grow berries.

The plant requires a thick layer of mulch for consistent surface moisture and to keep the root cool in the heat of the summer. Apply 3 to 4 inches of an acidic mulch out 4 feet from the center of the plant. Feed with Dr. Earth Acid Lovers Organic and Natural Premium Fertilizer late in the winter and after fruit sets in the summertime.

This beautiful plant attracts butterflies and birds and jealous neighbors. Don’t be surprised to get lots of curious questions from visitors to your garden. Order today and enjoy it!

RHS Chelsea inspiration – creating a Japanese garden

Inspired by Kazuyuki Ishihara’s 2016 Chelsea Flower Show garden, the Perrywood team have created their own Japanese style garden to show customers how easy it is to achieve a feeling of serenity in your own space.

The message that underpins Ishihara’s gardens, and Japanese philosophy in general, is for a peaceful co-existence between humans and nature. This makes Japanese gardens perfect spaces for those wanting a little tranquility and an area for contemplation.

The upper level of our two-tired structure consists of a planted timbre trough which provides shade and shelter from which to enjoy a cuppa and view of the main garden. Key features used:

  • Natural materials such as stone, metal and timbre

  • Colour is punctuated with a strong focal point, i.e. a traditional stone feature/sculpture

Specimen plants:

  • Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)

  • Imperata cylindrical (Japanese Blood Grass)

  • Hosta ‘Twilight’

  • Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ (Black Elder)

  • Asplenium bulbiferum (Hen and Chickens Fern)

  • Azalea japonica ‘White’

In line with the Japanese approach, colours are subdued and calming but with touches of red, orange, yellow, china blues and white. The garden is awash with pleasing textures achieved from the delicate leaves of the Acers, the fine swathes of grass, crunchiness of the gravel and the smoothness of the oriental sculpture.

In Japanese garden design, every plant is carefully chosen and placed according to its aesthetic merits, nothing is left to chance. This is for the purpose of creating a picturesque scene of the natural landscape in miniature. Careful placement is also carried out to serve as a backdrop to certain garden features and to hide any undesirable sights.

Japanese landscape artist, Kazuyuki Ishihara, has been a popular personality at the Chelsea Flower Show since 2004. This year he will present his ‘Senri-Sentei – Garage Garden’, a two-tiered structure offering space for a car, with complementary planting, as well as a place for the family to sit and relax.

Heads of pretty pink elderflower, Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’

There is a fantastic pair of elderflower ‘Black Lace’ bushes, albeit ~ 12 foot tall, growing on either side of the entrance to the Soame greenhouse in the walled garden at Wimpole. I pass them all of the time, but for the past 4 weeks they have smelt absolutely delicious. They have been loaded with flowers and have been stopping visitors in their tracks, quite literally, with their wonderful fragrance and pretty pink umbels.

Since I had just made a batch of normal elderflower fizz using a recipe from my trusty, old ‘Making the most of it’ book by Theodora Fitzgibbons from a hedgerow harvest, I got to wondering whether the exotic ‘Black Lace’ would make the same kind of fizzy drink, but taste different. So I asked permission to take a dozen heads of the flowers home to try and this is what happened …

(I’ve had to take some liberties with the process though, because it was spur of the moment decision to make the drink and I hadn’t been collecting bottles etc. So I’ve used the same quantities of everything as usual, except water. The mixture was started at quadruple strength to keep volumes down and my plan was to divide the liquid each time a new bottle became available, until the correct dilution was reached.)

Here are the flowers during the brewing process: 24hrs mixed with lemon, sugar and a little wine vinegar:

Macerating the pink elderflowers with sugar and lemon

You can see already that the colour has transferred to the liquid. At the next stage the mixture is strained into those hastily collected bottles.

Below I’ve shown the original elderflower pop (two weeks older) with the newly bottled Black Lace (still quadruple concentration). Such a lovely difference!

With each dilution and transfer to new bottles the drink has become paler and now, at its final strength, it looks like rose lemonade.

Black Lace Elderflowerade

Happily, the mixture is indeed beginning to fizz, but it doesn’t seem to be as vigorous as the normal batch yet.

Now it is two weeks since I made the drink and I have tried a little taste today (really the earliest you can do this without it tasting just like sugar water) and I found that it does have a different flavour. ‘Black Lace’ elderflower pop tastes more fruity (apples and strawberries) under the normal elderflower notes.

Sparkling Elderflower Fizz

And I compared it with a sample of (the two weeks older) standard elderflower fizz. This drink is slightly drier, with more citrus overtones. I am optimistic for both.

Now I must wait a month or two before it tastes its best, but all the signs so far are good.

Edible Landscaping – Edible of the Month: Elderberry

Clusters of black elderberries ripen in midsummer. They can be used for making jams, jellies, pies, and wine.

Elderberries are one of the easiest and most versatile shrubs to grow in your edible landscape. These Central European and North American natives are often found growing wild along roadsides, forest edges, and abandoned fields.

The prize for growing elderberries is the fragrant, edible flowers and the delicious fruits. The dark purple berries contain vitamins A and B, and more vitamin C than oranges. They are also high in cancer-fighting antioxidants. In fact, elderberry fruits have historically been used to treat many ailments, such as respiratory problems, colds, and flus. Plus, they are tasty when used in juices, jellies, jams, teas, pies, and wine. You can use the umbrella-shaped, elderberry blossoms for making a delicious fritters or even champagne (see recipe in this issue). And if you don’t want to eat the berries, the birds certainly will love them.

‘Black Beauty’ elderberry combines the easy-to-grow qualities of wild elderberries with handsome black foliage and attractive pink flowers.

Not only do elderberries produce attractive 8- to 10-inch-diameter white flowers and clusters of small, dark purple fruits, there are newer varieties on the market that have colorful leaves, too. These varieties of elderberry were bred for the ornamental characteristics, but still produce useful flowers and fruits. They make great shrubs for a foundation planting or in a mixed perennial flower border.

The two most common types of elderberries available are the European elderberry (Sambucus nigra) and the American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis). The American elderberry is the wild species often found growing in old fields and meadows. It grows 10 to 12 feet tall and wide and is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8. The European elderberry grows up to 20 feet tall and wide depending the variety, blooms earlier than the American species, is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, and some have pink flowers. The red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) is similar to the American species, but produces bright red berries — unfortunately these berries are poisonous and shouldn’t be eaten.


Elderberries fruit best when you plant at least two different varieties within 60 feet of each other. They start producing when the plants are 2 to 3 years old. While all elderberries produce berries, there are several varieties of the American elderberry that are especially good fruit producers. If you looking for a more ornamental elderberry, look to the European varieties with their attractive foliage.

‘Black Lace’ elderberry is a diminutive shrub with black cutleaf foliage reminiscent of Japanese maple leaves.

Here are some of the best selections to try in your yard.

  • ‘Adams’ – This American variety grows 8 to 10 feet tall. The large, juicy, dark purple fruits ripen in August and are great for making pies. The strong branches hold the berries upright. Plant a pollinator variety such as ‘Johns’ for maximum fruiting. This variety is often sold as ‘Adams No. 1’ or ‘Adams No. 2’. There is little difference between these two selections.
  • ‘Black Beauty’ – This striking European variety features purple foliage and lemon-scented pink flowers. It grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide and can be grown in perennial borders or as a foundation plant.
  • ‘Black Lace’ – This eye-catching European selection looks like a Japanese maple with its dark purple, deeply cut foliage. Like ‘Black Beauty’, this variety also grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide, producing pink flowers and dark purple fruits.
  • Johns’ – This early-producing American variety produces an abundance of berries that are especially good for making jelly. Growing 12 feet tall and wide, this variety is a good pollinator for ‘Adams’.
  • ‘Nova’ – This American variety can be self-fruitful, but does best with another American elderberry growing nearby. Large, sweet fruit are produced on compact, 6-foot shrub.
  • Variegated’ – This European variety has attractive green and white leaves and grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide. The plant is less vigorous and productive than other elderberry varieties, but the foliage is attractive all season long.
  • ‘ York ‘ – This American variety produces the largest berries of all the elderberry selections. It matures in late August and only grows 6 feet tall and wide. It pollinates ‘Nova’ well.

Site Selection

Elderberries grow well in full- to part-sun locations. They are not fussy about soil type, but grow best in a slightly acidic soil that is high in organic matter and stays consistently moist. Some of the European varieties may die back to the ground in colder climates, but will resprout from the roots in spring.


Before planting amend the soil with compost. Although elderberries grow well in moist soils, it’s a myth they can grow in poorly drained, wet soils. On heavy clay soils, consider building a raised bed to provide proper water drainage. Set shrubs out in spring, spacing plants 6 to 10 feet apart depending on the variety.


Elderberries grow best when fertilized annually with compost. They have shallow roots, so mulch around the plants with hay, straw, or bark chips to control weeds that compete for water and nutrients.

Elderberry flowers are flat, white, and large, and can be used to make a delicious champagne or a soothing bath.

Elderberries can sucker freely and send up vigorous new branches each season. These one-year-old branches produce side branches (laterals) that fruit heavily in the second and third year. In late winter, prune out branches more than 3 years old since these are less productive. Try to leave equal numbers of one-, two-, and three-year-old branches. Prune out any dead, diseased, or broken branches as well.

There are few significant insect pests and diseases of elderberries. Cane borers can infect older branches, so the above pruning guidelines also help control borers, too. During wet weather, leaf diseases sometimes affect the foliage, but they aren’t a serious concern. Birds love the berries, and you’ll need to cover the shrub with netting to keep them from quickly harvesting your crop.


Harvest elderberry fruit from August to September, depending on the variety. Let fruits ripen on the shrub to a dark purple color. Prune off the entire cluster when ripe and strip the berries into a bowl. The fruit doesn’t store well at room temperature, so keep it refrigerated after harvest and process the berries as soon as possible. You can expect yields of 12 to 15 pounds of fruit per mature (3- or 4-year-old) shrub, if grown properly. Uncooked berries produce a dark purple juice and are astringent and inedible, but when processed impart a sweet, earthy flavor.

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