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Bloom Report - October 16

Article for October 15, 2022 Blue Elderberry - Cathy Capone

This Bloom Report is for the birds. Blue Elderberry is an underappreciated flowering large bush for many people, but if you were a bird, you would put this at the top of your list. A great variety of birds feast on the berries and pollinators sip the nectar of the flowers. People, oh yeah people, have used Blue Elderberry for food, wine, medicine, music, building material and tools with recorded uses in the middle ages and likely farther back in the Americas. Elderberry based health supplements fill shelves in local drug stores. I have enjoyed making Elderberry flower fritters and elderberry flower flavored water. I recommend looking online for the Elderberry Plant Guide by USDA /NRCS for more information on uses.

Now about gardening with Blue Elderberry. Blue Elderberry is a large bush or small tree which is happy in full shade, part shade, of full sun. This plant makes the Bloom Report because it has been blooming on one bush or another in the Tule River Native Plant Demonstration Gardens since February when my recording started. I expect that it will continue blooming to a lesser extent through the winter, unless we have a hard frost. When there is a hard frost Elderberry goes dormant in the valley and resprouts when the weather warms. Elderberry is fast growing and given twice monthly water during the summer the bush stays green and flowering. Elderberry takes well to any degree of pruning. This plant is difficult to keep as a single stemmed bush or tree, it is strongly multi stemmed. If you plant Elderberry you will be treated to bird visitors and song in your garden. Elderberries have multiple small seeds in each berry and will germinates readily from seed. Plant it where it has room to grow. I do not recommend it as a patio tree because the berries and the birds which use the plant will litter your patio or furniture. Set this back from the high use areas and enjoy the view of the flowers, the birds, and butterflies.

More information on this plant can be found at by searching for the plant by name.

The following are just five of the plants which you can see blooming this month in a quarter mile walk along the Tule River Parkway between Jaye Street and Parkway Drive.

1. Blue Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea)

2. Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata)

3. Deer Grass (Mulhenbergia rigens)

4. Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

5. California Fuchsia (Epilobium sp.)

Many California native plants are available at Quercus Landscape Design in Springville, Dry Creek Nursery 35220 Dry Creek Dr, Woodlake, CA 93286 Call: 559-738-0211x115, Luis’ Nursery 139 S Mariposa Ave, Visalia, and Alta Vista Nursery in Three Rivers which is open by appointment 559-799 -7438.

Each of the Native Plant Demonstration Gardens are featured on the website

The Tule River Parkway is a City of Porterville public park which provides a three-mile paved walking and bicycle path. The gardens were planted and maintained by volunteers with project management by the Tule River Parkway Association. We have volunteer garden days each month. This planting season volunteers will add over a hundred new plants to the gardens and restoration areas. Follow Tule River Parkway Association on Facebook or our website for announcements. Volunteers are welcome to join us to care for the gardens.

Cathy Capone the volunteer project manager can be reached at 559-361-9164.

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