I originate from Lincolnshire - and proud to be a 'Yellowbelly' - and have lived in a few old cottages during my time in my home county. There was an elder bush by the gate at each one. I remarked on this fact one day when my mother's gardener had come to help me dig one up. It was particularly vigorous and had reduced access through the front gate to danger level, such that I had had complaints from the postman about getting very wet! It does rain quite a bit in the east, contrary to statistics about 'west in wetter'! The gardener, a wonderful tiny man with proper shiny rosy apple cheeks and twinkly eyes, was horrified when he discovered what he was supposed to be removing.
"Nah thin Missus, no, you musn't be doin' that!" I was taken aback somewhat.
"It be bad luck! Nowt to stop they witches!"
"They be planted at gayats (gates) to warn off the evil......I will move the gayat"
And he did.....made a new front path , what he called a 'pad'. And he would not take any payment.
"No Missus, I have just saved thee!"
So don't be moving 'they elders' at your gates will you? Any excuse for a new gate...... Just to avoid any witches I planted a posh looking Purple Sambuca nigra with soft pink flowers at my current front gate! I am pretty certain it is a variety called Black Lace.
Just time to remind you, before the flowers set to berries and your thoughts turn to jam and wine, this is the time to make elderflower syrup or cordial and elderflower champagne. The former is such an amazing taste, light, refreshing, and magical. I would even go as far as to say glamourous........add a dash to fizz ( alcolholic or otherwise!). It is a wonderful accompaniment to a stroll round the garden on your own when you are feeling self righteous at the amount of effort you have put in , or when showing it off to friends! With regard to elderflower champagne, just a word of warning - be sure you have proper bottles. I speak from a rather explosive experience! But well worth the risk. There are lots of recipes on line for both syrup and champagne, but below is the one I use for the syrup. I actually freeze some of mine in ice cube trays for instant chilled luxury. It is great added to cooked gooseberries and in and on homemade ice creams.
12 elderflower heads, gathered early when dry and fully open. Check for bugs and do not wash
2 lemons, coarsely zested and then sliced
Put elderflowers in bowl with prepared lemons. Dissolve sugar in the water to make syrup and bring to the boil.
Pour over flowers etc and leave overnight. (Do not be alarmed if the flowers go brown)
Strain through muslin ( or a jelly bag).
Sterilise bottles by heating in oven, allow to cool and fill the bottles. Or freeze in small quantities.
Store in cool dark place.
Cheers!.....maybe leave a glass out for the witches!