kelly_cassidy_gw

Sutherland Golden Sambucus - a recommendation

kelly_cassidy
14 years ago

A kind of accidently bought a Sutherland Gold Sambucus, not realizing it was a cultivar. I stuck it in my semi-wild ditch, where it suffered greatly from sunstroke during our very dry summer months. Eventually realizing it was a delicate domestic plant, I moved it to a site near the house where it got regular water and dappled shade during mid-day.

It has since recovered from its tramautic ditch experience and has become one of my favorite plants. It is not yellow, like many of the pictures I see on the internet. It is a bright, light green with airy foliage. Now, it has bright red berries. It looks like Christmas in July.

I'm not a big fan of cloned shrubs, but I have to say that I highly recommend this bright, airy shrub for a dappled shade spot with rich soil (or even a sunny spot if you live at low elevation and have humid summers).

Comments (18)

  • anitamo
    14 years ago

    I planted one this spring. I love it already, and am prepared for how big it will eventually get. I vouch for it too.

  • ego45
    14 years ago

    Planted two 3 footers last year 6-7' apart.
    As of 3 weeks ago they become 8' tall seamless 12' wide mass.
    Then I cut top 2-3' to promote new (yellow) growth and they responded perfectly. They planted in SW exposure with sun from 2 to 5pm in slightly ammended native clay.
    I love this shrub. No berries, though.
    May color:
    {{gwi:270306}}

  • kelly_cassidy
    14 years ago

    Mine had been reduced to 2 or 3 singed leaves and a few inches in height before I moved it to a civilized location in summer 2003. Last year (2004), it got to about 3 feet tall. No flowers. This year (2005), it's about 5.5 feet. About 5 to 10 flower clusters in spring. The individual berries are small. The clusters turned red a week or two ago. The birds haven't shown any interest, but they're too busy gorging on the yellow sweet cherries of the giant old cherry tree shading the Sambucus.

    Mine is growing in rich, unamended, somewhat alkaline, clay loam in the shade of the cherry and a big fir. It gets low morning sun, dappled mid-day light, and low late afternoon sun. It's where it gets a good, deep soaking once a week during the dry season.

    If I get motivated tomorrow, I'll take a photo.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    14 years ago

    I was also attracted to the lacy, chartreuse yellow foliage of this plant and the reddish tinted new growth. Bought one a number of years ago in a 2 gallon. As is typical with those of us who garden professionally, too busy messing around with other folks' gardens to get this planted in a timely manner. When time came to get this into the ground, it had already planted itself - the roots had grown through the openings in the container and most firmly into the ground, so much so that moving it would be problematic. So now I am ashamed to admit I have a 12' tall Sutherland Gold growing in an unfortunate location in what appears to be a 2G container :-) But it is a gorgeous plant - full southern exposure, very little care (obviously) and a full compliment of definitely golden, lacy foliage and bright red berries. Apparently a very tough customer.

  • kelly_cassidy
    14 years ago

    Here are a couple of photos of my Sambucus. As you can see, it is not "golden" which is fine with me as yellow leaves make me think "N-deficiency." Instead, the youngest leaves are a lighter green. (Perhaps they would be yellow if they had more sun.)

    {{gwi:270307}}

    {{gwi:270308}}

  • ego45
    14 years ago

    I had a quite abundant flower production in spring, but not a single berry in sight. Does it need a polinator?
    If so, who was a polinator in your case?

  • kelly_cassidy
    14 years ago

    The only other elderberries in the yard that might have flowered are two S. nigra "Pulverulenta" a variety with whitish young leaves. I didn't notice any flowers on them, but the flowers would not be prominant among the whitish leaves.

    Sutherland Golden is a different species, S. racemosa. I don't know if the two could cross-pollinate, even if the S. nigra flowered. I'm surrounded by wheat, barley, and pea fields, so there are no other Sambucus anywhere close outside my yard.

    So, I would deduce that S. racemosa can self-pollinate, but can't rule out pollination by S. nigra. Maybe it needs particular kinds of pollinating insects that didn't find your plant? Maybe a heavy rain washed away the pollen or the weather was too cold for the pollinators at the time? Who knows.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    14 years ago

    George, Sutherland is the only sambucus in my garden and it is loaded wth berries, or was until the painters got through with it :-( As I said, it planted itself in a rather unfortunate location. At any rate, these are self fertile but much like blueberries and viburnums, you will get better fruit production if another clone is available for cross pollination. As I recall, mine took a couple of years before flowering and berrying was profuse so perhaps establishment and maturity is the answer. I have found this to be true with viburnums as well - the older my trilobum gets, the more berries it produces and I don't grow other forms able to provide pollination. Of course, there could be some in the neighborhood.

    Kelly, the foliage color of yours is undoubtedly affected by the amount of shade - mine is in full sun and very golden in comparison. But the coloring on yours is quite attractive - a very bright, grassy green - and if you are not a fan of gold or yellow leaves, even better.

  • ego45
    14 years ago

    Pictures as of today.
    New yellow growth after mid-season trimming is clearly visible.
    {{gwi:270310}}
    {{gwi:270312}}

    BTW, I was trying to root cuttings and soft wood (tips) rot almost immediately, while semi-hard wood cuttings were looking promising for a week or so but they vanished too, nevertheless. Trying hard-wood now.

  • karinl
    14 years ago

    For rooting, try one of those new shoots, pulled off right where it emerges from the older wood, with a heel. With any cutting, make sure you have one node (with leaves removed but any axillary buds left on) in the soil...

    Gardengal, you probably know you can move that shrub in fall, when cutting those roots won't hurt the shrub.

  • chrsvic
    14 years ago

    This is my favorite shrub. They do seem to grow better in dappled shade, although the yellow color is more intense in sun.

    I have rooted these as hardwood cuttings. Just cut about an 18 inch section of stem in late fall, after the shrub is dormant. You can cover a bundle of these with damp sand in a bucket, and store them in a cool basement. Next spring plant it deep with a couple of buds showing, should grow fine.

  • newyorkrita
    14 years ago

    Lovely pictures. This is a shrub on my to get list. I just currently have plain old red elderberry and it is no where near as lovely.

  • Dianna Stackhouse
    5 years ago

    This will be year 4 for our 3 Southerland Golds. One bush is in the shade most of the day except the morning so is not as big as the other two. This is the first year we have seen flowers buds in them and they are covered. The first photo is of the biggest bush last summer. The next is of the shaded bush and then a closeup of the new blooms on the biggest bush. Last summer in the the big bush below, we found a couple small clusters of berries hidden deep inside the bush. I can't remember what color they were and I didn't pick them because I didn't know if they were poisonous. I'm doing research now and am surprised at all the medicinal claims. If I can remember I will post more photos later in the summer.

    Sorry, don't know why the photo so turned on its side.


  • Kari Olson
    4 years ago

    I have had a Sutherland Gold for about 5 years, in all that time, it starts out in the spring looking so pretty, then blooms but the berries disappear and some of the branches turn black and die. It has done this every year.... I have no idea what is wrong with it. Its the same pattern every year.... I am so disappointed in it...as it should be a real showpiece.

  • Dianna Stackhouse
    4 years ago

    Kari, the same thing happened to our bushes! What the heck? I was so excited thinking we would have berries this year, but instead the little clusters dried up and some of the branches holding the clusters turned black at the ends and kind of shriveled up a bit - after (or when) the clusters fell off. The branches where the clusters didn't fall, seemed fine but they had dried, brown clusters of mini-berry wannabees. So sad.

  • Kari Olson
    4 years ago

    I sure haven't been able to figure out why. I have one of the black elderberries and it is small and never blooms.! If you find out why it is doing this be sure to post it.


  • Kari Olson
    4 years ago

    Here is my Sutherland Gold from its good side. I photographed the bad side with the dead branches, but it was too dark. This shows the one branch...there are 3 that died.


  • splaker
    3 years ago

    Kari maybe it's too shaded? Seems like it needs some sun... how's it doing now?