Laburnum alpinum and Sambucus nigra
The tree behind, displaying brown seedpods, is Laburnum alpinum. Its common name of Scotch Laburnum is a misnomer – it comes from south central Europe and the Balkans. It differs from the more common L. anagryoides in that its racemes of yellow flowers are shorter and denser, and its seedpods glabrous rather than hairy. Nowadays, the laburnum most usually planted is L. x wateri ‘Vossii’ which comes from a hybrid between the two. We have a young ‘Vossii’ planted to cope with the coldest, draughtiest spot in the garden, which it does successfully so far; it looks very dull now, but this L. alpinum does seem to keep more interest when it is lit up by the low November sun.
In front of it is Sambucus nigra. This is growing right up against the Laburnum, and clearly must have been a stray seedling that grew up unnoticed. It flowers and fruits in the normal way, except that this autumn it produced no fruit at all, just like all the elders round about. What it has produced instead is a covering of lichen, which I think must be Xanthoria parietina. It hasn’t displayed this before, and lichen does not thrive on the east side of Scotland as it does in the west. I hope it does not indicate that the tree is diseased or dying. Perhaps it is the exceptionally wet recent seasons that have encouraged it.
In the foreground incidentally, is the extremely well-behaved bamboo, Fargesia murieliae ‘Jumbo’.