Something remarkable has happened since I started the great forsythia massacre 2019 — a new plant (or new to me) has made itself visible.
And I am not sure what it is.
When forsythia takes over it’s like a shrub Kudzu with monstrous arms covering everything in its path. And what I never knew until I began to beat back 50 years of overgrown forsythia is it more grows over everything than up and through everything.
I have literally discovered more than three new large areas in my garden to plant by cutting back and digging out overgrown forsythia. For the life of me I don’t know why forsythia doesn’t end up on an invasive species list because it truly is invasive.
This time around as I started to cut it back, I realized the forsythia was SO overgrown it had smothered itself in part.
I cut and I cut and I cut. Over the past couple of weeks my mountain of plant prunings has grown and grown and bit by bit the forsythia has shrunk back. Once again I discovered bare earth with not even a weed.
And then I looked up. I saw a plant I had never seen before. It had white sort of airy fairy frothy flowers. I thought it was a vine at first. I had already pulled out the obnoxious twisting vine hell known as bittersweet. I had already pulled out the dog rose which I yank out whenever possible because of the mites that carry rosey rosette disease.
I cut back some additional dead growth, and all of a sudden I realized what I was looking at was actually a shrub.
Now to discover what it is. I haven’t figured that out yet. I am leaning towards some sort of viburnum. I have discovered other viburnum growing wild in my woods, including one of my favorites, maple leaf viburnum. I have also consulted some garden experts via a garden app I use called Garden Answers. They sent me an email that said it was a black elderberry:
Sambucus nigra is a species complex of flowering plants in the family Adoxaceae native to most of Europe and North America. Common names include elder, elderberry, black elder, European elder, European elderberry and European black elderberry. It grows in a variety of conditions including both wet and dry fertile soils, primarily in sunny locations.
Purple- and cut-leaved form of Black Elder, a vigorous, upright deciduous shrub producing amazing, large pink blooms and stout canes. Once the blooms are done in mid summer, tiny, shiny black fruits form that are edible to both humans and birds. Native to Europe, North Africa and Southwest Asia. Black Lace is a trademark used to sell the ‘Eva’ cultivar.
It prefers afternoon shade, regular water and a slow release fertilizer 4 times a year.
My problem with that is I have black elderberry and the leaves are darker. Also these flowers are white. But maybe it is an elderberry and not a viburnum. Time will tell when the berries form.
This is the fun of tending to your own garden. You discover things. Hidden gems in unknown plants, or at least unknown to you.
It’s like a treasure hunt when a garden gives you an unexpected plant!