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Ideas for an Elderberry guild?

 
master steward
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I have Elderberries on our fence lines that have the 'natural' look. They have various volunteer trees, wild Back Berries, and Passion Fruit tangled together. I need armor to do any harvesting.

"Elderberry


I am considering building a calmer guild around this isolated bush, it is about 8 feet tall, and maybe 10 feet in diameter. The bush is surrounded by grass and Creeping Charlie. There is a columnar maple 5 feet away to the east from the Elderberries' drip line.

"Lone


Do you have any ideas?
 
gardener
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I'd go for partial shade lovers that stay low, the elderberry is a spreading bush that sends up new shoots from the root system, so you don't want to disturb that root system unless you want more elderberry plants coming up.

Squashes like pumpkin would do good as a border in the sun planting but so would watermelon or any of the melons for that matter. If you don't mind climbers getting up into the elderberries then even a loofa would work.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
master steward
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They are ripening!

 
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I already have comfrey in my elderberry guild, but I'm also moving "thornless" wild huckleberries from nearby because I noticed some thriving when growing together in a natural situation.
 
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I don't know what your entire situation is , but my inclination would be to fence it and put goats on it after harvest. They'll clean up the unwanted things and won't mind the thorns. Then you could plant and rearrange to your hearts content and the Elderberries should come through with flying colors, happier for the haircut, no?!?

These are by the way only thoughts.  I am just beginning to making a foray into the world of all things Elderberry.  Can't wait to see what you do!
 
pollinator
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Location: Monticello Florida zone 8a
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:
Squashes like pumpkin would do good as a border in the sun planting but so would watermelon or any of the melons for that matter. If you don't mind climbers getting up into the elderberries then even a loofa would work.



With all due respect I would advise against loofas
as I have seen them crawl up and tug choke/bend to death a 4"+ diameter pine tree.
 
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What is your goal? I’ve seen people mulch with woodchips and then plant herbacious perennials (mint, comfrey, alliums, etc). This works really well as a low maintenance support guild with a potential harvest of herbs. If you are willing to put more work in on a yearly basis, pumpkins or other veggies might be a good option - more work, more yield. If you want to try other shrubs - maybe honey berry, low thorn gooseberries, etc? Thornless blackberry? This would be in danger of overgrowing unless you keep it trimmed, though. I haven’t seen that with elders myself though, so just guessing at good shrub partners.
 
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I found several elderberries on a hike today here in Utah. One elderberry was about 8 feet tall, in a meadow. The striking thing about it was it was totally surrounded by wild mint, about 3 feet high and in flower. A ring of wild mint around the elderberry.

The elderberry and mint both seemed to be thriving.
 
pollinator
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A summer growing, harvesting vine would be neat. Since elderberries are usually ripe early summer.
If one were to choose loofah, one may have to thin it a little. Loofah would likely need to be replanted annually in cooler climates.
Perhaps even a cool weather pea planted in late summer, that is winter killed. It'd grow after the harvest, die back in winter and add nitrogen to the soil. Plus provide a harvest.

We love our elderberries. We grow plants that tolerate moist soil at their feet. We are just beginning our elderberry hedge.
Happy growing.
 
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I found our blue elderberry growing in admist a bunch of salmonberries (literally in the middle of a big hedge). So I'm thinking they'd do well with cane berries. You'd probably want thornless raspberries or blackberries so you don't have to deal with pokies when picking berries. Probably also would like other woodland-type plants, like strawberries. Hostas might work, too!

I tend to put the same sort of perenials under my fruit trees, mainly because that's what I have access the most to:

 ~ sheep sorrel
 ~ french sorrel
 ~ chives
 ~ hostas
 ~ Daylillies
 ~ sweet cicely (self seeds!)
 ~ strawberries
 ~ wild strawberries
 ~ blackcap raspberries by bigger trees (thorny, but so yummy!)

I'm sure there's better, more personalized guilds out there, though!
 
pollinator
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Elder is rejected in native multi species hedge rows here in the uk. It grows very quickly compared to other hedging plants and shades them out, leaving a weaker and gappy hedge. With that in mind I would avoid anything that doesn’t cope well with lots of shade.

Also, don’t be afraid of pruning it at ground level and letting it regrow from roots when it gets too large. The individual stems are relatively short lived, and copicing can revitalise the overall plant. Flowers and fruit are on this years growth, and stems can easily grow 1m per year.
 
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