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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Will the Elder 'Berry' Please Stand Up?

This is how I got my start!!!

My sister sent me this card for my birthday this past December.  Somehow she always manages to come up with a Birthday card that signifies some of the events that took place during our childhood, -that being, they almost always ring true!  And, she admits it!  She'll say, "Does this look familiar?"  Or..."does this remind you of anything?"  These cards are always hilarious!!!  I mean-it's like she has her own greeting card company designing these cards just for her!  Anyway, it is a cute card...I'm sure other siblings can identify with it too!
Thank you Leta for the really ORIGINAL and fun card!
So,  I called you all here today, to announce an annual garden event.  Every year since 1994, the International Herb Association has chosen a specific herb to be designated as 'herb of the year'.  And, I am excited to reveal that the herb of the year for 2013 is the 'Elderberry', also known as the 'Englishman's grape'.

The Elderberry is a  soft-stemmed shrub that is usually found growing along fence lines and wet areas, native to the Southeastern U.S.  These shrubs are a member of the honeysuckle family and can reach heights of 12' to 20'.  Elderberry can grow at edges of swamps, ditches and lakes.  They can also be found throughout Florida and the Gulf region to Mexico.

Elderberry blooming along a creek bottom

In the early to mid-summer, the Elderberry will bloom large white clusters of flowers...many times, these shrubs are grown in gardens just for their showy flowers.

~aren't they pretty?

Did I hear you ask "Are there any uses and benefits of the Elderberry?"  Well, Elderberry has been used for centuries to treat wounds, when applied to the skin.  And it is also used in treating flu and allergies, relieving nasal congestion, and helping to reduce swelling of sinuses.
(I could have used some of that a month ago, lol!)

* In European folklore, fairies and elves would appear if you sat underneath an elder bush on a midsummer night.  And, elderberries were known to ward of witches.

I know, I want to hear the good stuff about the grand Elderberry Wine, don't you?  Well, it is said to have health benefits too-it helps strengthen the immune system.  And, the wine is pretty- I have not ever partaken of Elderberry Wine, but according to Elton John it is a hot item.

~looks a little wicked to me!

Sometimes, white-tailed deer will feed on the leaves of the elderberry.  And, over 50 species of songbirds, robins, mockingbirds and gray catbirds feed on the elderberries.  So, we know that the sweet, juicy fruit appeals not only to us folks as jellies, pies and wine, but, also to some of our beautiful wildlife, as well.

I don't know about you guys, but, I don't recall ever seeing an Elderberry bush.  If so, I didn't know what it was.  I did find in my Burgess Seed and Plant catalog that you can order Elderberry bushes, 18-24" size at $9.99 a pair.  Hmmmm....thinking about trying it out-but, I would have to find a swampy, kind of damp area of the yard for planting.  You can also order elderberries at:

And, it's time for membership renewal at the Greater Kansas City Herb Study Group for 2013.  This group maintains an herb garden at Loose Park in Kansas City, Missouri.  They enjoy luncheons once a month, with a visiting speaker or a field trip to some beautiful gardens out of the city.  My mother is a member and assists with organizing the programs and luncheons for the club.  She also, helps design and plant the herb gardens for the club. For the past several years, Susan over at KardKornerKrib has designed and printed the membership applications with the itinerary for the year for the Herb Club.  Below is what the front of this year's membership flyer looks like.  More than likely, Susan will feature the flyer in its entirety on her 'My Stuff' page over at the KardKorner.
And, now...back to the 'elder' Berry!!!
 It's my sister, of course!
Our maiden name is Berry, and, she is the eldest.  Her birthday is coming up in February, and, I'm already on the lookout for a unique card idea (will have to get that KardKorner gal to help with the design)!

Thanks to:
Univ of Maryland Med Center (article on Elderberry)
Florida Forest Trees (article on Elderberry)

And, my heartfelt thank you to my gracious readers for stopping by to see what I've been up to.  I sincerely hope you all are staying well and healthy.  My goodness, that horrible flu, pneumonia and all of those other virus strains are taking toll on us this year!!!  Please be safe-drink a lot of fluids...well, I have learned that Elderberry wine, can assist in warding off cold and flu, haha!

* Happy Australia Day * and, prayers for a bit of relief from the heat over there!

* Devon, UK...I'm wishing sunshine your way!

"Drunk all the time,
Feeling fine on Elderberry wine-
those were the days."

Taken from the song 'Elderberry Wine',
written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin in October 1972

Sir Elton John

Be safe!  See you next time!