Every year in late May and early June, the hedgerows are littered with large saucer shaped elder flowers with their distinctive heady scent.

Elder bushes used to be planted near houses to ward off evil influences and according to some folklore, an elder only thrived in a house in which happy people lived.  

Elderflower is probably best known for making cordial, but also has cosmetic uses: an elderflower infusion added to the bath is said to soften the complexion.

Pick your elderflowers on a sunny morning before the heat of the day while they’re still heavy with pollen. Pick only the creamy coloured flowers and leave the flower heads that are turning brown to develop into elderberries. Shake out any insects that are lurking but don’t wash them. Deal with the flowers as soon as you get home as they don’t keep well and even left overnight will take on a decidedly unappealing smell.