Elder trees grow in the hedgerows and fields, the young branches are hollow and pithy (the older wood is very hard). The young branches can be used to make blow-pipes, or flutes/whistles perhaps for the more peacefully minded. The bark is rough and cork-like with deep ridges.
Around May time Elder trees comes into flower. Elderflower is known in some quarters as the first sign of summer and spending a warm sunny day collecting the flowers and turning them into Elderflower cordial or Elderflower champagne, will only enhance that summery feeling.
I think it’s nice to collect the flowers with the children and they will enjoy helping you make the different brews. The kids can then have the cooling cordial and the adults can enjoy the fizzy stuff later on.
The white flowers start as tight green buds that tend to grow upwards, although they may droop if they are heavy; they smell subtly of citrus. Elderberries come after the flowers, they start green and then hang down in bright purple/black bunches, they are very popular with blackbirds and thrushes.
When picking Elderflowers, always try to avoid any flowers with small insects on them. Do leave plenty of flowers on the tree because when they develop into Elderberries, these can then be turned into other tasty treats later in the year.
Despite the cold and relentless rain, I saw my first Swift of the year on Monday, and, although he did look slightly stunned; the Signs of Summer are definately lining up...